The baby formula shortage continues to expand as desperate parents of infants and young children find limited supply and empty shelves in stores across the U.S. The Biden Administration and federal lawmakers are launching plans to address the shortage, but families worry help may not come soon enough.
For new parents Gustavo and Kelly Arias, finding formula for their 10-month-old daughter is overwhelming.
“It’s been like a scavenger hunt every week,” Kelly said.
The couple from Long Island, NY, have asked relatives as far away as Texas for help. But they, too, have come up empty.
The shortage was sparked, in part, after a February recall and subsequent shutdown of an Abbott plant in Michigan over concerns of tainted formula.
President Joe Biden this week personally pressed formula manufacturers and retailers to increase supply. Republicans criticized him and said he should invoke the defense production act, something the White House said is on the table.
“We moved as quickly as the problem became apparent to us,” Biden said. “We have to move with caution as well as speed because we gotta make sure what we’re getting is, in fact, first rate product.”
The Food and Drug Administration says it will announce plans next week for increasing baby formula imports as well as additional flexibility for U.S. manufacturers, which it says will dramatically increase supply in the coming weeks.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers will vote next week on an emergency measure, hoping to relax federal rules regarding the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children known as WIC. The White House has asked states to do the same.
The Biden administration has also called on states to crack down on baby formula price gouging. Meanwhile, multiple congressional committees have launched investigations into the issue, with public hearings expected to begin on Capitol Hill next week.