The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank recently received about 2,600 cans of infant formula from a California-based nonprofit to help families feed their children during the formula shortage.
“No one should ever have to worry that they won’t be able to feed their baby,” said Charlese McKinney, food bank director of partner network programs. “This generous donation will reduce some of that strain for families and allow them to focus more on raising very young children.”
The national formula shortage began last year as as the covid-19 pandemic led to disruptions in ingredients, labor and transportation, according to industry executives. Then in February, Abbott recalled several major brands and shut down its Sturgis, Mich., factory when federal officials said four babies suffered bacterial infections after consuming formula from the facility.
Abbott, which makes the popular Similac brands, is one of the four leading infant formula manufacturers in the U.S., according to Allied Market Research.
The plant reopened earlier this month but shut down again this week because of flooding. It likely will be closed for a couple of weeks.
To help ease the burden, Baby2Baby, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, provided cans of Enfamil Gentlease formula for children up to 12 months old to the Pittsburgh food bank.
It was part of a larger, region-wide donation. On May 25, Baby2Baby announced it would distribute 12,000 cans of formula to hospitals, diaper banks, childcare centers and family resource centers across the Pittsburgh area.
Among those benefiting were UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the state Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, North Huntingdon-based Beverly’s Birthdays, the Children’s Home of Pittsburgh, Every Child Inc. in Pittsburgh and other smaller centers in the region.
“It has been horrible for every parent but even more devastating for families living in poverty who don’t have the luxury of switching to a more expensive brand or access to multiple stores to find anything in stock,” Baby2Baby co-CEOs Norah Weinstein and Kelly Sawyer Patricof said in a prepared statement.
Joshua Murphy, food bank director of supply chain strategies, said the facility will accept donations but that officials aren’t purchasing formula for distribution so as not to compete with grocery stores struggling to keep formula stocked.
“People are struggling to get access to baby formula, and it’s a tragedy,” Murphy said. “We’re so grateful for the donation and excited to make it available.”
Anyone who shows up for assistance at their local food pantries is eligible to receive formula, said Murphy, who recommended calling ahead.
You can find your local pantry on the food bank website.
Haley Moreland is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Haley at [email protected].