BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Many families are scrambling to find baby formula that has disappeared from store shelves in the midst of a nationwide shortage.
As they try to secure a supply, your local and state lawmakers are trying to figure out how they can help.
“I think for a mom it's a crisis,” declared Judette Dahleiden, director, WIC, Catholic Charities of Western New York. “We all should be concerned, as New Yorkers and as a community, about this shortage.”
Social service agencies such as Women, Infants & Children, known as WIC, are trying to help eligible and low-income families find formula.
“And if they're not finding it on the shelves they need to go to the customer service desk because stores are limiting the amount that people can purchase because they don't want families to go in and buy ten cans of formula and then somebody can't even buy one to provide nutrition for their child,” explained Dahleiden.
WIC families can also talk to their health care provider who can list two infant formulas on their medical documentation.
“If the baby is on a specialty formula and they are not able to find it in the store, if the health care provider had already listed two different formulas, all mom would need to do is call the WIC office and we would be able to change her benefits on her EBT card,” noted Dahleiden.
“And no infant should ever have to go without basic nutrition needs,” remarked Joe Lorigo, legislator, Erie County Legislature.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are trying to figure out what they can do to help.
Republican Minority Leader Lorigo filed a resolution Friday.
If approved, it would call on the county administration, Erie County Health Department, and the county’s purchasing department to discuss any way it might be able to assist the community much as it secured PPE during the pandemic.
“Whether or not we could purchase baby formula in bulk and then provide it to Erie County residents at our cost — just to sort of help people in this time of need where they don't have the same access to the formula they normally would,” described Lorigo.
A spokesman for the county executive's office says the county does not provide formula at this time and also noted even President Biden is having trouble procuring formula.
Republican State lawmaker Patrick Gallivan and Democratic Assemblyman William Conrad say they're not sure how they can help but will do their best.
“We’ve all seen those pictures of shelves and it scares the hell out of me and my heart goes out to those families facing that crisis right now and if there is anything to do I will certainly pursue it,” replied Assemblyman Conrad.
Conrad says he is a parent using baby formula and is very worried about the situation.
“My heart is absolutely screaming this is American today. We have a situation where our shelves are empty and it's children — babies,” remarked Conrad.
“I think among the things that the state is looking at is whether or not it is appropriate for the state to try to pursue a supply, especially for those that are in need that they may be able to assist with the distribution, but I just don't know if we can get to that,” responded Senator Gallivan.
On Thursday Governor Kathy Hochul announced resources for families to help deal with the infant formula shortages suggesting women call their OBGYN or medical provider to see if they have samples.
A Buffalo pediatrician told me when it comes to specialty formula they don't have as much as they usually do and she is not sure if they can get more when they run out but is trying to do their best to support the most vulnerable patients.