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First Coast

Desperate moms turn to milk bank as baby formula remains scarce

Baby formula.jpg
Michael Conroy
Baby formula is displayed on the shelves of a grocery store in Indianapolis with a sign limiting purchases.

Jacksonville-area families desperate to find baby formula are turning to the state’s donor milk bank for help.  

The Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida has gone from receiving a dozen calls a week to a dozen calls a day.

“Families are wondering how they can help and how they can receive support,” said Laene Keith of the milk bank, which is based in Orlando but serves the entire state.

Stores across the U.S. are continuing to run low on formula since Abbott Nutrition, one of the largest manufacturers, issued a recall in February.

During the first week of May, the average out-of-stock rate for baby formula at retailers across the country was 43%, according to data from the firm Datasembly, which collected information from more than 11,000 sellers.

Keith says a number of inquiries to the milk bank are coming from the Jacksonville area as formula has become scarce on supermarket shelves.

“One of the most remarkable and admirable offers that we have been seeing has been a dramatic increase in women who have said, ‘I personally have more milk than my own baby can use, enjoy, or eat. How may I help?’” Keith said.

About 92% of the supply goes to meet the needs of babies in hospitals' neonatal intensive care units — but anything beyond that can help moms in need during the formula crisis.