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Lubbock moms band together to manage formula shortage

Formula.jpg
Provided by Lubbock Moms Facebook Group
The nationwide formula shortage has led to shortages in Lubbock.

The national baby formula shortage has started making an impact in Lubbock as many mothers are now struggling to find formula for their children.

“About mid-March, I wasn’t able to get it or it’d be sold out at the store,” said Victoria Whitehead. “Beginning in April, I wasn’t finding it at all.”

Whitehead is a mother of two. Her youngest is 8-months-old, and needs hypoallergenic formula. Whitehead said the specific kind of formula is more expensive and limited, but she never had trouble finding it before. She needs about two cans a week, but they’ve been hard to come by.

“It was pretty scary early on,” Whitehead recalled. “I remember looking to my husband in the car after we went to our fourth big box store, and we only had half a week’s supply. I was like ‘If he doesn’t have this, what do we do?’”

Whitehead is one of thousands of moms who have found themselves staring at near-empty shelves that should be holding baby formula. The shortage stems from February, when Abbott Nutrition’s formula plant closed in Michigan. It was the largest in the U.S., and closed due to contamination issues.

Since then, mothers have had to look far and wide to find the formula they need. Whitehead turned to social media, specifically the “Lubbock Moms” Facebook group.

“I started kind of talking with other moms at that point to say ‘Can we communicate together?’” said Whitehead. “Because I’m having to go to two or three big box stores a day, just to find one can. Not all moms can do that on their lunch break, or spend a Saturday driving around with gas prices or those resources to do that.”

Whitehead was lucky - a friend of hers had a family member in Chicago who found the kind her son needed and shipped it to her, so she now has a good supply for now.

Another mom in the Facebook group has started offering help the best way she can - by donating bags and bags of breastmilk.

Jordan Robinson is a first-time mom, and was surprised when nurses told her she was making more milk than some of the other new moms at the hospital. She didn’t realize exactly how much more she was making until later on.

“It got to the point where we were like ‘We have enough milk that we’re thinking either we need to buy a third freezer or we need to find something to give this to,” Robinson said, “because it was filling up quickly.”

Robinson said she’s happy to help where it’s needed, especially to alleviate some stress from other mothers.

“Not being able to breastfeed is not the mom’s fault,” Robinson explained. “Unfortunately, it’s just how things work out and sometimes moms choose not to breastfeed for their own mental health and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Robinson has since been flooded with messages regarding her supply of breastmilk - from people in and outside of Lubbock.

“I’ve received messages from outside of Texas, from Tennessee and Louisiana and Arkansas,” Robinson said. “All the extra milk I’ve had has been claimed, and I’ve had to create a short waiting list for moms to be on.”

Robinson wasn’t expecting the response, but said she’ll continue to breastfeed for as long as she needs to.

“I feel like I’m supposed to breastfeed for a long time and provide milk to all these families until the shortage ends,” Robinson said. “This formula shortage is not their fault, they shouldn’t have to figure out how to feed their child.”

The Food and Drug Administration announced last week that the Abbott Nutrition factory could be up and running again before the end of the month.