Our country is facing an unprecedented shortage of infant formula. Right now, to feed their babies, panicked parents who have the privilege to do so are driving to multiple grocery stores and/or paying inflated prices for formula. They’re scouring the internet for supply or paying for out-of-town friends and family to ship them what their children need.
Parents living in poverty often don’t have the time, funds, transportation, or job flexibility to execute such a quest.
Which is to say, the formula shortage is a crisis for all parents, but it’s a particularly hard blow to those who face food insecurity or depend on WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children), which serves over 140,000 children under age five in Georgia. WIC allows eligible families to purchase only certain types and sizes of formula for their infants, exacerbating the challenges families are facing during the shortage
Nobody should have to live in fear of their child going hungry.
Last Friday, the White House announced a change to federal policy allowing states the option to expand the variety of products WIC recipients can access with their benefits. It is now up to states to implement this change. GEEARS encourages the state of Georgia to increase access to formula by allowing WIC recipients to purchase any available formula.
This formula shortage is a recent crisis caused by manufacturing violations that led to a safety recall, as well as pandemic-related supply disruptions. But food insecurity is nothing new. According to the USDA, 14.8% of households with children were food insecure in 2020—the first increase in food insecurity since 2011.
This is a potent reminder that, even when our infant formula supplies are restored, policy and practice must center families with young children. GEEARS is committed to amplifying the stories of Georgia’s infants and toddlers. We will continue to use our voice to advocate for policies that address childhood poverty, increase access to health care and child care, and support the needs of young families.
If you’re a parent or caregiver who needs help during this crisis, please click on the resources below: