Baby formula shortage hits harder in Nevada’s rural, tribal communities
The baby formula shortage remains a stressful issue, with 1 in 5 states stocking just 10% of what's normally found on store shelves. Nevada is one of those states.
Formula is now being airlifted to the United States from other countries. But it'll be several weeks before stores have an adequate supply. Meanwhile, the shortage is affecting people in different ways throughout the state, and that includes tribal groups, of which there are 27 throughout Nevada.
Angela Adams is the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program director for the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada. Most of her participants are in outlying and rural areas of the state.
“Typically, a lot of these grocery stores out in these rural areas have limited quantities of many different foods as it is,” she said. “What this means is that so many of our families, the formulas that they are used to, they're no longer able to get, and so they’re having to try new formulas, which results in a whole other realm of issues.”
She said many families are also afraid to return to Abbott products, the main company behind the shortage and many major formula brands.
There’s no exact end date for the shortage in sight, but with the Abbott factory back in production, she said they hope for an increase in product availability soon.
Adams said they’ve had family members from tribal areas bus to their office in Reno, where she said in that instance, they were able to find formula for the family.
“It's heartbreaking when you have parents of children or grandparents coming into our office asking us where they can get formula, because they're so worried about their grandchildren, their children,” she said.
Many families, however, have transportation limitations, and traveling to cities to look for formula or other needs isn’t feasible.
“It does scare me to think about how many families might be diluting formula, or making their own formula,” she said, which WIC does not recommend. She said it can be dangerous for an infant. “Compare that to an adult, it’s like rationing food.”
The problem becomes even bigger for families in need of specialty formula, if the baby has an allergy, for example. She said it’s imperative families don’t over-buy product when it’s found because so many infants rely on it.
KNPR recently spoke with Nourish Nevada, a northern group, about what moms in need can do. And La Leche League of Las Vegas is one of a few organizations available for Southern Nevada families in need.
Angela Adams, WIC nutrition coordinator, Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada