Statement attributable to Luis Guardia, president, Food Research & Action Center
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2022 — FRAC commends the Biden administration for today’s announcement to assist families impacted by the unprecedented nationwide shortage of infant formula.
This will be especially important to the millions of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) participants who rely on formula to feed their children. WIC provides low-income pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children with nutritious foods, nutrition education, and improved access to health care.
Nearly half of infant formula is purchased by WIC participants. Recent infant formula recalls and shortages have created problems for parents utilizing WIC benefits.
WIC operates by identifying specific healthy foods that families can buy with their WIC benefits at the store. For formula-fed infants, the WIC benefits specify the type, size and brand of infant formula.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working with states to make it easier for families to use their WIC benefits to access formula. State WIC offices have issued notices and allowed substitutions to accommodate the formula shortage, but more must be done to ensure all infants have the nutrition they need to grow and stay healthy. USDA is urging states to “allow WIC recipients to use their WIC benefits on a wider variety of products so that if certain sizes or types of formula are out of stock, they can use their benefits on those that are in stock.”
The pandemic has only deepened America’s hunger crisis, and households with children have been particularly hard hit. This most recent challenge of the formula shortage places an even greater burden on families who are struggling. When parents cannot get the formula they need for their baby, the health consequences are significant because infant formula is specially designed to provide infants with the nutrition they need in an easily digestible form.
FRAC looks forward to working with the Biden administration and USDA as they support efforts to make formula access easier for families in desperate need and believes all babies deserve the best nutrition and start in life. Calls for limiting access to infant formula based on immigration status or being in a detention center deny people their basic nutritional needs.
FRAC stands with the Biden administration in supporting the right for all infants to be well-fed.
The Food Research & Action Center is the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States. To learn more, visit FRAC.org and follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.