Desperate parents turn to social media to find infant formula

Mother finds generous hearts as well as scammers

Desperate to find formula to feed their babies, parents are turning to social media and finding both generosity and greed.

SAN ANTONIO – Emily Clayton never dreamed she’d be desperate to find food for her baby son, Finley.

“I have maybe a week left of formula, and that’s scary,” she said. “There are times when I visit five stores in a day.”

What Clayton typically finds are shelves with little to no formula, let alone the particular one she needs.

In addition to rallying her family and friends to be on the lookout for the precious commodity, Clayton turned to social media.

“I’m not really a social media person,” she said.

But Clayton posted her plea, like so many others nationwide, in hopes that someone can help. Following parent groups that trade or sell formula or just offer information and support, she’s found some luck. Clayton drove miles to pick up one can someone had available.

“Another can I was supposed to pick up last night and trade his baby things,” Clayton said. “That’s a huge thing, trading old baby things for formula.”

Scrolling online, Clayton said she’s found generous people willing to give away formula they can no longer use or even breast milk. She’s also run across greed and people looking to take advantage.

“Moms will sell formula and not ship it,” she said. “Or they sell it for jacked up prices.”

Pediatricians hear the frustration, but warn parents to be careful.

“Do not buy from a non-reputable supplier,” said Dr. Courtney Smith with Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “We want to make sure that we know what your baby’s getting and that it’s been screened through the FDA and it’s being held at the same nutritional standards.”

You also want to know that it’s been properly stored, Smith said.

Adding to Clayton’s struggle - not every store accepts WIC as payment.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services says the WIC program has expanded the list of formulas that can be purchased through the month of May due to the shortage. If a parent is unable to find the brand or size of formula they need, they may contact their local WIC office.

Manufacturers say they are producing as much formula as they are able to try to meet the demand. It’s been nearly three months since a massive recall of some popular brands made at Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan, plant made an existing shortage caused by supply chain issues much worse.

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration is making infant formula high priority, the government said. Click here to read more about some important steps the FDA is taking.

It’s highest priority for parents like Clayton as they cope with a shortage that so far has no real end in sight.

“The only thing to do, I don’t know. I don’t know,” she said. “I’m at a loss at this point.”

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About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.