Louisiana waiting for Operation Fly Formula product to arrive
BATON ROUGE - Some store shelves are still bare even though emergency shipments of baby formula have been flown in from overseas through Operation Fly Formula. The Abbott formula plant in Michigan is supposed to reopen Saturday, June 4, but it's not fast enough for parents trying to feed their babies.
Jennifer Nicklas is the Director of Nutrition Services with the Louisiana Department of Health and has been on the front end of this crisis since the recall in February. The recall has impacted powdered formula specifically.
"It's been sad and stressful," she said. "We've been trying to tell all families to look in different places, to not just rely on the big grocery stores."
Within the last couple of weeks, two cargo plane shipments have been flown to the US from overseas. States are anxiously awaiting the arrival of that formula, but when it will get to Louisiana is unknown.
"We don't have a timeline," said Nicklas. "I don't even know if the federal government can say, okay, it's here on Tuesday that means by Wednesday it's going to be on the shelf. It's just not working that way."
The White House says products will go to hospitals and healthcare providers first, then major retailers. State WIC programs and hospitals will start receiving that supply as soon as this weekend. Companies will be managing the distribution through their normal channels.
Nicklas says WIC programs will be updating their approved product list so parents can shop for more variety. She says the product arrives as soon as possible. While the shelves don't look like they did months ago, there has been some improvement.
"It's not back to what it was before the recall, but it's better than it was a couple weeks ago," said Nicklas.
There are resources available to parents in crisis. The Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families with a variety of services. Partners for Healthy Babies is also offering 24/7 assistance to link families to resources in their area.
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