PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Many parents are finding empty shelves and dwindling supplies as they scramble to find the formula they need to feed their babies. It comes as Target, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens start limiting the amount of baby formula that customers can buy at one time.
Abbott’s recall of several types of Similac, Elecare and Alimentum in February only compounded an existing supply shortage.
It’s a frustrating process for Yolanda Rodriguez. She will never forget the sick feeling in her stomach when realizing she had fed her then 3-month-old daughter a recalled Similac baby formula.
“She not only drank a whole can, she drank many cans,” she said.
Luckily, her little one didn’t get sick, but now she said finding a replacement formula is extremely difficult.
The shortage in formula is hitting non-profits helping mothers and babies especially hard. Jennifer Stracick is with ALPHA House of Pinellas County, they care for homeless pregnant women and those with infants.
“We are in a semi crisis here because a lot of our girls use Similac,” she said.
Stracick said her organization was forced to throw away any donated formula affected by the recall, but that doesn’t leave them with much to help the moms in their care, especially those who use hypoallergenic formula.
“One of my staff members was hopping from store-to-store last week trying to find that specialty formula," Stracick said. "She could only find one can for the baby we have here. It’s a crisis because these babies cannot have any other formula. They’ve already exhausted different brands and that happens to be the only one they can drink."
There's no timeline for when stores will stop limiting supplies. In a statement, formula companies told ABC Action News they are working right now to increase production.
Many of the national retailers are limiting purchases to three infant and toddler formula products per visit in-store or online.
Walmart already has a five-per-day product limit on baby formula in most states.
ALPHA House of Pinellas County has made appeals to some of their donors for more formula donations. Stracick said many of the donations from the public that they have received recently at their St. Petersburg location have been part of the national recall.
“We’ve had to throw all of that out, so that’s been frustrating. If you’re in the store and maybe you don’t need formula but you see ones available, we would be blessed to have it,” she added.