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As the formula shortage leaves shelves empty, families turn to their communities for help

Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign limiting purchases in Indianapolis on Tuesday.
Michael Conroy
Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store with a sign limiting purchases in Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Families who have little ones are in a crisis right now. There’s little to no baby formula at local stores nationwide. Shelves that were once fully stocked are emptied quickly, leaving caregivers struggling to feed their babies and in search of resources and alternatives.

Stork Support of Northern Colorado is one of the local community organizations trying their best to help those families in need. The nonprofit provides supplies for infants, including bathing, clothing and feeding items.

But with the ongoing formula shortage, it has been hard for them to assist. And finding brands that are prescription-based is almost impossible.

“We would have that brand to help in those situations so losing that was a big blow, and then that was our biggest request,” said executive director Nikola Reinfields. “Families who had a medical need for Elecare and now had to switch to another hypoallergenic brand … it's been difficult.”

The shortage has increased the need for formula and expenses have skyrocketed.

“Stork Support just spent $133 last week to help a family to feed their baby for six days,” said Reinfields. “That's $22 each day.”

A good resource for the nonprofit has been their Facebook group. Volunteers communicate and let each other know where they are finding formula. Reinfields tells them to only grab one off the shelf.

“People are panic buying,” she told KUNC. “It’s important to keep in mind that other mothers need formula too. If one person has a brand that someone else needs, they will swap.”

The majority of formula has come from donations of families who overbought, had a couple weeks’ worth of supplies or had samples from pediatricians.

In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis is working with Mothers’ Milk Bank to help families with breast milk donations and financial contributions. The federal government recently took action to ramp up formula production, but it could take weeks before shelves are fully stocked.

Northern Colorado families in need can request help from Stork Support by filling out an online request form.

Corrected: May 20, 2022 at 11:46 AM MDT
A previous version of this story stated that requests for support went from 10 per week to 50 per day at Stork Support of Northern Colorado. This change actually occurred in March 2020, not in recent weeks.
As a general assignment reporter, I stay on top of what is happening in our community and in our state. I make sure that my community in Northern Colorado can understand the information that I am delivering. I also host Colorado Edition and love to connect with listeners with knowing that they are choosing our station for the latest news and weather conditions.
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