Last year, empty shelves of toilet paper, paper towels, and disinfectant products were the common scene among grocery stores and wholesale retail shops in the US.
Now, empty shelves of baby formula lie bare in some retail stores and pharmacies across Southern Nevada. Jeri Gaheton, grandmother to a baby named Keanu Faustino, posted a photo of a spare can of baby milk formula on social media after hearing the news on the shortage.
"Wala pang one minute, may nag message na sakin. Kasi nakikita ko yung struggle ng mga magulang maghanap ng formula milk, so let me see my pantry kung natira pa akong gatas ni Keanu. So pinost ko sa Facebook," Gaheton shared.
(It was not even a minute but someone already messaged me. Because I saw parents struggle with finding formula milk, I checked our pantry if Keanu still had milk. So I posted it on Facebook.)
Gaheton, who also works for a major retail store, added that every day, their phone line has been busy with inquiries on formula shipments and availability.
"It's really bad, you will see the shelf, wala talagang laman. So maraming mga phone calls na tumatawag kung marami kaming deliveries pero wala talaga... Hindi ko nga ma-imagine yung takot nila kung ano yung papakain nila sa anak nila kasi maliit pa sila, baby pa sila."
(You will see the shelves are really empty. There are many phone calls asking if we have deliveries but we really have none... I can't imagine their fear, not knowing what they will feed their children who are still young and babies.)
Elan Canlapan, a Fil-Am mother of a six-month old baby, echoed this sentiment.
"Last Friday, when one of the retailers posted that they have stocks, dumayo pa talaga yung husband ko and in-laws to the store para makabili ng milk," Canlapan said.
(Last Friday, when one of the retailers posted that they have stocks, my husband and in-laws even traveled far to the store to buy milk.)
Canlapan also asserted that baby formula is the only option for her child.
"For three months now, we've been changing milk formula for my six-month-old baby. It's been concerning because he can only take a certain kind of formula. And the adjustment period of my baby getting used to the milk is also an issue."
Like many, Canlapan is hoping that President Joe Biden will solve the shortage by getting more safe infant formula onto shelves across the country and making it one of the government’s top priorities.
"It's scary because ang baby pa talaga ni Gab for an actual solid food," Canlapan noted, referring to her baby.
The baby formula shortage began after Abbott Nutrition closed its facility in Michigan due to safety concerns from the FDA. Abbott’s facility was a major producer of formulas that families in the US rely on. Major retailers like CVS, Walgreens, and Target have begun to limit the number of baby formula products that customers can buy. A report from Datasembly states that 43% of formula products were out of stock in 11,000 stores across the country.
On Saturday, Biden signed H.R.7791 into law, calling it the Access to Baby Formula Act of 2022. It allows the waiver of certain program requirements in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, And Children due to a supply chain disruption emergency.
More than 70,000 pounds of baby formula from Europe arrived in the country on Sunday, and Biden says there's more to come.