by: Brónagh Tumulty, General Assignment Reporter at WGN News.
ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. — Parents may be facing a reoccurring problem at their local grocery stores: the lack of food for their babies.
Datasembly, which provides information for many retailers, says baby formula has been one of the most affected categories of the year, with the shortages attributed to inflation, supply chain problems, and product recalls.
Data shows stock was down 23% in January and has dropped further since, with a 31% shortage noted in April.
As of April 3, seven states — Connecticut, Delaware, Montana, new jersey, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington — had out-of-stock numbers higher than 40%.
WGN News reached out to Chicago-based Abbott, the company behind products like Similac. Representatives say they’re doing everything to address the shortage, including increasing production, shipping in stock daily from their FDA registered facility in Ireland, and engaging with healthcare providers to identify potential alternative formulas.
One alternative that mothers and fathers may want is donated breast milk, now available at the Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes in Elk Grove Village.
“Donor milk, in general, is always a rollercoaster,” says program manager Susan Urbanski. “We never know with supply and demand what we’re going to be dealing with.”
She says the milk bank has seen an uptick in people looking for help.
“Talking to our outpatients, in particular, a lot are reporting they either can’t find formula they’re looking for or feeling uneasy about using formula because of the recalls,” Urbanski said.
She says hospitals are the priority and the most fragile babies come next, but they have an ample supply on-site.
The bank is open to those who are in need.
“There’s lots of reasons families may not have access to maternal milk, so we really hope to be able to fill that gap for them,” Urbanski said.
Anyone interested in retrieving or donating breast milk to the bank can learn more information here.