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Local parental assistance provider advises families how to get through baby formula shortage

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WATERLOO, Iowa (KWWL) -- There's no one source to the baby formula shortage facing the US. With no easy solution to finding more formula, many local families are left scrambling for what they can find.

Baby formula, like other products, struggled from strained supply lines and inflation throughout the pandemic. The shortage ramped up after a recall in February of powdered baby food from Abbott Nutrition, one of the main suppliers for the US.

Kara Pasker lives in Dubuque County and says she struggles to find enough formula for her 3-month-old daughter.

"I fear that if she doesn't have that formula because I don't produce enough for her," Pasker said. "She won't get everything she needs for her. I don't want that to happen."

Amanda McKee runs the HOPES program in Black Hawk County. HOPES or Healthy Opportunities for Parents to Experience Success, provides support for families with children up to 5 years of age.

McKee says over the last few months they've had more and more families coming to them about formula.

"At least 15 have reached out in the last two weeks asking if we have formula. If we can help them access formula," McKee said. "And then just people in the community knowing that we run a program for new moms and if we have a stockpile of formula we can assist them with."

McKee says while they keep a small stock in case of emergencies, most of the formula was taken when the Abbott Nutrition recall happened in February. She says it's been difficult to replenish with many places like Target and Walmart limiting the amount one person can get.

With formula so hard to find she warns that families should be incredibly cautious about alternative recipes for formulas they find online.

"It has the right amount of calories that families need," McKee said. "It just doesn't have necessarily the nutrients that formula has. And while we all have clean kitchens at home, there are still a lot of contaminants that like you can get just by making a recipe at home."

McKee says if its a choice of these alternative recipes and nothing, do what you need to to feed your baby. However she says there's other options to get more formula. Along with big retailers like Walmart and Target, she recommends checking local pharmacies, gas stations, or local county and state resources as well.

If all else fails she advises reach out to your child's pediatrician for their advice on where to find more formula or other alternatives.