DAVENPORT, Iowa — Parents across the U.S. have been met with empty shelves at retail stores as they scramble to find baby formula. The product has been in short supply over the past few weeks because of supply chain disruptions and a massive safety recall.
Abbott, the largest U.S. formula manufacturing plant, was forced to halt production due to contamination concerns in February.
The company on Monday, May 17 announced it had reached an agreement with U.S. health regulators to restart production. However, after production resumes, Abbott said it will take another six to eight weeks before new products start arriving in stores.
The YWCA of the Quad Cities is trying to help ease the burden on parents. Its Iowa Empowerment Center in Davenport has a food pantry, clothing closet and hygiene products available for free for people in need. Among the products it has is baby formula.
The YWCA posted Friday on its Facebook page that it had some formula available for those who needed it.
"I was walking past our pantry and I'm like, 'Oh, we have all this formula,'" said Amy Schaefer, the director of marketing and programs. "As soon as we put it up, it was like immediately being shared by people that we know, people we don't know. And our phone was pretty quickly blowing up with requests."
"We wanted to share what we had and make sure that it got out to our community for those that were in need," said Deanna Woodall, YWCA vice president and executive director of the Iowa Empowerment Center. "Most of it has been claimed, so we're very happy to help with that."
Schaefer said about a dozen families were able to get formula. As of Tuesday afternoon, there were still a few cans left.
"This lady's like I've been everywhere, and you just can't imagine," Schaefer said. "I mean, I can't imagine not being able to feed your child. They're all under a high-stress situation."
She added that if the YWCA doesn't have the type you need or are out of formula, it will try to find it for you or let you know when it's in stock.
It also has other items available for families in need at its Iowa Empowerment Center. There are diapers up to size six, baby wipes, baby powder and shampoo. Schaefer said the goal is to ease the stress on families who might be feeling the pinch of rising costs at the store.
"It's amazing to me doing this work at the number of people that are in need, but when you do have a national shortage and that number intensifies so rapidly, it makes our work here that much more important," Woodall said.
The YWCA is accepting donations of unopened, unexpired baby formula. Woodall said it also considering using some of its excess funds to buy some.
As of May 8, 43% of baby formula was sold out at retailers across the U.S.
As of May 1, 37% of baby formula was sold out in Illinois. In Iowa, it was nearly 50% sold out.
Anyone in need of supplies, can call or text the YWCA Iowa Empowerment Center at 563-340-0310.