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Baby formula shortage impacting mothers and organizations in Alaska

A photo of baby formula taken on May 16, 2022.
A photo of baby formula taken on May 16, 2022.(Connor Matteson)
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 8:51 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The nationwide formula shortage has been impacting families nationwide since February. Alaskan people and organizations are finding formula difficult to come by.

“I have none,” Onolina Fanualalei said.

A struggle facing families in Alaska is occurring nationwide, baby formula is getting harder to come by and when families do find it, it can be incredibly expensive.

“It’s too expensive for me,” Fanualalei said.

It’s not just mothers who are seeing the impacts. Marci Bowen is a Permanency Coordinator and Expectant Parent Advocate with the Alaska Adoption Services, an organization that gives out baby supplies for free to families. Bowen says that Alaska Adoption Services are seeing their stock dwindle.

“We didn’t have a constant supply but we usually had probably, like five-ish, every couple of weeks that we were able to give out, which isn’t a lot,” Bowen said. “But right now, we’ve had, I think, two in the last month that we’ve been able to give out. And so that has been, you know, it’s been hard.”

The organization sees around 120 mothers a month who come in for baby supplies, with a small percentage of those mothers who need baby formula, but they’re having to be turned away.

“It’s hard,” Bowen said. “You can see the disappointment on people’s faces when they’re like, oh, okay, I wish that you had it. But I mean, they understand it’s definitely really hard to come by right now.”

Elizabeth Walsh, a family nutrition programs manager for the State of Alaska, wrote in an email:

  • While a stressful time, families should purchase only the infant formula they need in the immediate and avoid stockpiling. This will help ensure other families have access to critical formula for their infants and allow manufacturers and retailers adequate time to restock shelves.
  • Families should pay close attention to online retailers of infant formula to ensure they are legitimate and safe sources, especially with a possible increase of online scammers.
  • As this crisis continues, we advise against certain risky practices. Families should not make their own homemade infant formula, nor provide cow’s milk before the age of 1 year, as these are unsafe practices that do not provide adequate nutrition for infants.

For more information on Women, Infants and Children (WIC) in Alaska, you can click here.

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