TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — Although FDA and government officials are working on getting baby formula back on shelves, parents are scrambling to feed their babies, especially if they need a specialty mix.
“I went to six to ei ght stores in one day trying to find formula and there just not be any there,” said Allison Lezotte of Piney Flats. “I’ve literally stood there and just had tears in my eyes. I just want to cry my eyes out because I literally wonder what he’s going to be able to do to eat.”
The bare shelves, frustration, and fear consume moms and dads in the baby formula aisle.
“She’s needing a high-calorie formula to give her added fat from where she was born so early,” Kelsi Cornett said of her one-month-old daughter, Avery Meadow, who was born prematurely. “Finding the exact formula she needs has been really hard. I’ve had to go to Facebook to try to find it.”
Now, parents are turning to social media to help each other, even creating Facebook groups.
“I was on Facebook just kind of looking around seeing everywhere posting randomly about looking for a formula, formula they wanted to donate,” said Alex Bolger of Erwin. “I figured it was best to have it all in one place so people could easily find it and get together and get the help that they need as easily as possible.”
Bolger started the Tennessee and National Formula find Facebook groups. There, people can search for formulas and post how much stock stores have.
“I can work as early as 8 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m. It’s almost impossible, especially during the week to be able to hunt it down,” Bolger said. “It eases my nerves because I can sit there and say, okay well, I know I can meet up with this person and get formula. I know I can at least have some way of being able to feed my baby.”
The Tri-Cities Breastfeeding Supply Closet is another group hoping to help families.
“We get between 8-10 messages a day for formula. And they’re usually the same brand, same kind of formula,” said its founder, Angela Young. “In Tennessee, they have been stocking them almost every 2-3 days but really within hours, they’re gone completely.”
That group has gotten more than 30 cans of formula for families since May 4.
“You’re barely able to get in maybe two or three stores before it’s time to go back home and start feeding again and start the whole process over so you shoot your shot for the day and if you don’t find anything then you just have to hope for the best for the next day,” said Avery Meadow’s dad, Sean Cornett. “It’s hard to sleep not only with a newborn but with that weighing on your mind that you’ve got a dwindling amount of formula that is specifically for her.”
Parents are using the groups to not only save time for themselves but also for others.
“Maybe the store I’m at doesn’t have the formula I need but it may be able to help somebody else out. There are just so many different specialty formulas that different parents need,” said Kelsi. “I know people are saying, ‘Ask your pediatrician what’s the best solution,’ and some pediatricians may have samples of formula but that’s going to be dwindling too.”