Moms are fighting formula shortages with online groups and an interactive map
(NEW YORK) – Mothers across the United States are banding together to respond to the emergency of formula shortages and implement short-term solutions in local communities as businesses and the federal government scramble to deal with the crisis at the national level.
Kerissa Miller, a mother from Kennewick, Washington, started the Facebook group Find My Formula, Tri Cities WA on May 11 to pay for it after another mother helped her by donating much-needed formula for her son from 6 months.
Miller’s son, MJ, was born two months early and needs to be fed a special formula for premature babies. Similac’s NeoSure is one of the formulas affected by Abbott Nutrition’s recall in February. Miller said she was unable to breastfeed her son, and her son’s pediatrician also told her that there were no other formula substitutes that would work for him.
The Facebook group helps parents and caregivers like her in Southeast Washington request formula, share information about formula stock at local stores, and facilitate formula donations for one another. others.
“Moms message us and call us crying. They’re on their last box of formula, so the need is extremely urgent,” Miller told “Good Morning America.” “When these moms go to Facebook looking for formula, they’re in such a desperate state that delivery is really the only option to help that baby get fed right away.”
Miller and a team of several moderators as well as three delivery drivers, including Mac Jaehnert, set out daily to respond to Facebook messages from parents in need and coordinate formula pickups and deliveries.
“We have fed hundreds of babies only formula. There is no other option,” Miller said. “Paediatricians cannot meet the need. There just isn’t a formula for everyone, so we just depend on moms to give us formula to feed other people’s babies. It’s a crazy world we live in where Facebook feeds our babies.
In just nine days, the public group Find My Formula, Tri Cities WA has grown to over 560 members. On some days, Miller said she drove up to six hours with her son to make formula deliveries after leaving her eight-hour night shift as an environmental sewage operator just to help out.
“All we have right now is community, so we’re doing everything we can to help babies because it’s affected the rich, the middle class and the poor,” said Miller, who is also currently four months pregnant.
“I’ve delivered formula to mansions and these moms can buy it, but they can’t because it’s just not available. And the moms who are hurting the most are the WIC moms,” a she added, referring to the federal benefit program for low-income Americans, “This is just a crisis you didn’t know existed in America.”
“All I can do is get a box of formula and drop it off before I go to bed.”
Marcela Young has also dedicated her time to easing the formula crisis. Young is a mom of an 8-month-old and although her son doesn’t need formula, she was touched by the stories of other families affected by the shortage.
“I don’t personally feed formula, but I know a lot of moms who do and the feeling of not being able to help your child is just very close to home,” Young told “Good Morning America.”
Young, a consultant in the Houston area, recalled that a former classmate of hers had started a business that allowed people to create interactive maps online and quickly realized that the mapping tool could be a way for her to help others.
This is how the 29-year-old launched her “Fighting the Formula Shortage” card last week. The map, hosted by Proxi, can be viewed on computer, phone or tablet and allows everyone to add any point to a global map and organize it into several categories: “need for formula milk”, “can give formula”, “need breastmilk”, “can donate breastmilk”, “formula in store” and “milk bank”.
“The way the map works is you add a point anywhere in your country. You don’t have to put in your real address,” Young explained, adding that anyone who adds a new dot will also receive a welcome email afterwards.
But Young also tries to help organize connections whenever possible.
“People reach out and say, ‘Hey, I have this pin I’m watching near my house. They need formula. I see formula in my store, I’d like to ship it to them or I’d like to take it to their house or anywhere to meet me,” Young said. “Then, as the card admin, I can see their information if they’ve decided not to share it, and then put them in touch with each other. I make sure the person receiving it knows who is going to contact her and I try to make sure the other knows who needs it.
Young publicized his card through his network of friends and on social media on Fighting Formula Shortage’s Facebook and Instagram pages. As with many online groups, Young also warns others to stay alert to potential scammers.
“Above all, be careful, be safe,” Young said. “If you’re going to do something virtually with someone, ask lots of questions. If you are going to meet someone locally, please do so in a public place. This way you avoid different problems there.
“There is still a lot of good in humanity,” she added. “And it was really nice to see people stepping up and wanting to spread [the] word, allocate resources.
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