Major baby formula recall leads to shortages for Virginia families on WIC

For now, parents can buy formula not usually eligible with WIC

It’s been nearly two weeks since Virginia families were rocked by a major baby formula recall. This paired with supply chain shortages is making it difficult for them to find the formulas they’re used to on shelves.

Central Virginia mom, Megan Gary, said she’s running out of options. Her 5-month-old, Avonlea, depends on Similac formula, which is one of three being hit by the recall.

“Having to rely on formula and then that not being an option, how are you going to feed your baby?” Gary said. “That’s just a scary feeling. It was like, ‘What am I going to do next?’ You have to figure it out. You can’t let your baby go without eating.”

Abbott Nutrition’s Similac, Alimentum and EleCare formulas are being pulled from shelves after five babies became sick, with two of them dying.

In Virginia, it’s the only formula parents on WIC like Gary can use.

“We use WIC and are currently using SNAP. We used some of our SNAP money to get baby formula,” she said. “But if you use SNAP for baby formula, and you only get a certain amount of money, what are you going to use for your groceries? It puts you in a rock and a hard place.”

Gary said she checked stores all over Virginia, in Farmville and Williamsburg, as well as a few in North Carolina, but she couldn’t find the formula she needs.

Parents are already facing a formula shortage due to supply chain issues.

“It wasn’t impossible to find formula, but some of the formulas were really hard to find anyway,” Gary said.

The state is stepping in to bridge the gap. For now, parents can buy formula not usually eligible with WIC. A breakdown of formula substitutions can be found here.

“I’ve been going to Walmart every day to see if they’ve restocked. I went to Walmart yesterday and they had a couple of cans of Similac,” Gary said. “I grabbed as many as I could because you have to.”

The Virginia Health Department said parents can bring in recalled cans for a refund and new formula. They also suggest turning to breastmilk banks and pediatricians for help until shelves start to fill up again.

About the Author

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.

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