NBC12: Richmond’s mayor calls for State of Emergency to deal with baby formula shortage


Richmond’s mayor is asking Virginia’s governor for a State of Emergency, among other requests, to deal with rising concerns over a baby formula shortage.

“Yes we’ve laid out a series of requests to them but it’s our hope that they are willing to partner and do everything they can to make sure infants don’t go hungry in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Some of those most at-risk are families on Virginia’s Women, Infants and Children program, which provides nutrition to those who can’t afford it.

The list of approved baby formulas available for those on WIC is restrictive.

Following the Abbott formula recall, Virginia WIC even expanded formula options available to families.

Baby formula maker Abbott reaches deal to restart factory tied to shortage
Mayor Stoney called for the WIC alternative formula program to be extended indefinitely and to include as many baby formula options as possible.

“Do what you can to buy those options that are not WIC restrictive. So when you go to that shopping center take the extra step to look and see if there is a purple sticker on the price label that says WIC on it. Because that means somebody has no other options. You might be able to,” said Eva Colen of the City of Richmond Office of Children and Families.

Stoney also announced the city and the Robins Foundation are shelling out $45,000 to help WIC families get access to formula and pay for it even if it’s not on the approved list.

“One thing that we’re really looking into is how can we provide potentially some direct financial support to these lower-income families so they have a wide variety of options to go to vendors who currently don’t accept WIC at all,” said Elliot Haspel, Robins Foundation program officer.

The Robins Foundation is contributing $20,000 for this effort while the city is looking to fund the additional $25,000.

At the federal level, U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th District, says importing formula from other countries is about the only option at the moment for fast results.

“Importing baby formula from other countries, that will be priority number one and that’s the fastest way as of right now to get additional formula on the shelves,” said Spanberger.

Spanberger also says there weren’t enough alarm bells going off early enough.

She’s working on federal legislation to require formula makers to notify the FDA about potential manufacturing interruptions.

Read Stoney’s letter to Youngkin:

Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s spokesperson Macaulay Porter issued the following statement after the mayor’s announcement:

“The Biden administration’s FDA decision to shut down manufacturing without a viable backup plan has caused widespread chaos for parents across the country. VDH is closely monitoring supply of formula and answering questions from parents about alternatives, as well as tracking the market for any evidence of price gouging. Although not the cause of the shortage, the administration is prepared to take action if evidence of price gouging is found. Getting inventory in Virginia back to normal levels is a priority for the Governor and his team. He has and will continue to engage with our federal counterparts and industry leaders on their production capabilities.”

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