Hampton Roads parents working to keep babies fed amid worsening formula shortage

baby formula
Posted at 11:14 AM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 17:41:55-04

HAMPTON, Va. - One local mom is struggling to feed her 9-month-old daughter amid the national baby formula shortage.

“I can’t be doing this, I can’t be running to 10 different stores every month trying to find her formula. What else can I do?" said mother Erica Lopez.

Lopez told News 3 she was also impacted by the Similac recall in March. She said her daughter Elliana had to be switched to a different brand, but even finding that has been a challenge.

"Whenever we would see it in the store we would just buy it, even though the can wasn’t necessarily empty yet, because we were like 'Who knows the next time we come if we’re going to see it?'” Lopez said.

Lopez said she typically only finds one or two cans in stores at a time. She said one can only lasts a few days, so the panic to find formula sets in nearly every week.

“When my daughter doesn’t drink the whole bottle I’m like 'oh my God, she just wasted like 2 or 3 ounces. That was like a scoop we could have saved.'”

She said she has even reached out to family in California to keep an eye on shelves there to mail her cans of formula if she can't find it locally.

Some parents have turned to other means of feeding their child, like using donor breast milk. Local mom Katie Waltrip said she has an oversupply, and has donated 1,000 ounces to babies in Hampton Roads.

“I am purposefully pumping more to try to get my supply back up to try to help feed as many kiddos as possible,” Waltrip said.

Waltrip is also a donor for the King's Daughters Milk Bank at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk. Director Ashlynn Baker said they have seen an increased demand for breast milk for NICU babies.

“Human milk is a life-saving treatment for them, preventing the risk of death and improving outcomes for them, so it is critical that we maintain meeting this demand because even the hospitals are having a hard time maintaining a supply of formula,” Baker said.

She also said now is the perfect time to donate.

“We definitely have felt increased pressure and demand not only from the hospitals we serve but also increased interest in milk donations, so families are realizing now is a really great time to help fight this," Baker said.

Friday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued the following statement on the baby formula shortage:

"My administration remains engaged with industry leaders on their production capabilities, and the Virginia Department of Heath is working to ensure that there are adequate supplies of baby formula state-wide. Additionally, my administration has asked the FDA to utilize all resources to get the U.S. plant back into production as quickly as possible. Simply put, acquiring baby formula shouldn't be a challenge in the United States."
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

For more information on how you can donate to the milk bank, click here.