Families in the Coachella Valley are being affected by the nationwide baby formula shortage. The lack of food is causing people to seek help from local organizations.
We spoke to FIND Food Bank about their efforts to help support parents and caregivers. Their staff tells us the shortage is everywhere.
FIND Food Bank is receiving call after call from infant parents looking for baby formula. Many of them driving from store to store without any luck.
Lorena Marroquin, Director of Community Impact at FIND Food Bank says they're having trouble securing enough formula to distribute to the community.
"Baby foods is one of the hardest foods to rescue, because once that that food expires, it's no good pass expiration," says Marroquin.
FIND Food Bank Community Coordinator, Mina Cano, tells me she's been answering at least two calls a day from parents in search of baby formula.
One mother she spoke to was so desperate to feed her baby, she gave her infant regular milk.
“As soon as the baby drank the milk, she had to take it to the hospital because he started getting allergies," said Cano.
The food bank is working to refer community members to different government organizations like First Five.
"I know the WIC is one of those, that they have their own nutrition centers. That they can refer their clients to, but the shortage is everywhere," says Marroquin.
The FIND Food Bank is also looking to work with community members to better serve families in the Coachella Valley.
“Any organizations out there that are serving families and are assisting with formula and have that resource available, if they wouldn't mind sharing that information with us so that we can share it with our clients, that would be greatly appreciated," adds Marroquin.
The food bank is also asking that people stay away from buying in bulk and only purchase a maximum of two formula containers when they find it in stock. This will give all families a better chance at feeding their infants.
If you are a parent or caregiver struggling to find baby formula you can read tips given by medical experts here.
The shortage of baby formula is being felt nationwide.
The Out-of-Stock rate jumped to 43% this week, according to retail inventory experts, Datasembly.
This, after the FDA shut down major manufacturing facility Abbott Nutrition and recalled three of the company's major brands of powdered formula amid salmonella concerns.
So what can parents do to feed their babies during this shortage?
Vice-chair of Pediatrics for the Riverside University Health System Dr. Kathleen Lima, said breastfeeding is a safe way to keep your baby healthy.
“If your parents are able to breastfeed, try to do so as long as possible at this point. As well as including pumped milk, and giving the baby bottle pumped milk, if that's your preference, as well. And that way, we can continue to reserve the formula for the babies who aren't able to get any breast milk.”
If breastfeeding isn’t a viable option and you depend on a specific formula, Dr. Lima recommends- “Any formula you find if your baby is already on the regular formula, no specialty or prescription formula, then anyone you find is okay," she added, "If you're on a brand name, so it's and you find that generic, go ahead and use the generic is okay, any one of the ones that are in there, if it's on the shelf, it's safe to use.”
As parents desperately search for formula, Dr. lima said it's important to follow safe practices.
WHAT TO AVOID:
- Do not make your own formula at home - Recipes online tend to not have the same compositions or FDA supervision as formula in stores
- Do not dilute your formula - Cutting corners could be unsafe for your child. Stick to the recommended doses and instructions.
- Avoid buying formula online from strangers - Don't buy anything that from somebody that you don't know. Check expiration dates for those family friends who may be giving you something that they're no longer using. Make sure it's factory sealed.
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