TAMPA, Fla. — Parents have been left with empty shelves and little to no answers as to when they can get their hands on baby formula during this nationwide shortage.
There's hope in sight as the first batch imported under Operation Fly Formula arrived in the United States.
“It's an extremely, extremely stressful situation, you know, not being able to find what your child needs," Kathy Heller, a mom of a 6-month-old boy, told ABC Action News.
Heller said her son needs a specific kind of baby formula.
“He's now on an all amino acid-based formula which is pretty extremely hard to find currently in the formula shortage because there's only three brands that are made, and they seem to be the best way I can describe it as among the missing," Heller added.
On Sunday a shipment from Europe marked the first of multiple planes of imported formula expected to arrive in the U.S. in the coming weeks.
According to the Biden Administration, the Operation Fly Formula shipments will transport the equivalent of up to 1.5 million eight-ounce bottles of three formulas. They'll include Alfamino Infant, Alfamino Junior, and Gerber Good Start® Extensive HA, all of which are hypoallergenic formulas for children with cow’s milk protein allergy.
"I'm told that this shipment provides enough formula to take care of 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week. Now that's about a half a million eight-ounce doses of formula on that plane, about 78,000 pounds," Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, said.
Those numbers, Heller adds, are encouraging.
“But, at the end of the day, we all know that since we've all been scrambling, you know, the moment that it's on the shelf, I almost imagine a situation of like a Black Friday situation where people are just waiting, and they're waiting for it to come out and there's going to be a scramble to go ahead and get it or buy it online," Heller explained. “So it's very uplifting to hear that things are starting to change. It's a definite positive but in the grand scheme of things, we still have a really long way to go because the numbers may sound large, but at the end of the day, that's still not really a lot to be honest.”