Federal lawmakers from Washington state hear concerns about formula shortage

On Thursday, federal lawmakers from Washington state heard firsthand accounts of how bad the baby formula shortage was in the state.

On a call, Sen. Patty Murray and Congresswoman Kim Schrier heard from parents and stakeholders.

Murray said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration needs to do more to end the shortage and inform parents as she has demanded information from the agency and baby formula maker Abbott concerning the shortage.

She also thinks the president should name someone as a formula coordinator and put together a national plan to address the issue.

In the last 24 hours, a critical second shipment of baby formula arrived in the U.S on a FedEx plane. The plane was carrying 120,000 pounds of hypoallergenic baby formula from Germany — enough for roughly 1 million 8-ounce bottles.

The formula was immediately transported to the Nestle facility near Allentown, Pennsylvania, where it will be sorted, packaged, and shipped out to hospitals, families in need and retailers nationwide as soon as this weekend.

Despite the arrival of the formula, it is still expected to take some time for the formula to get to those destinations, especially on store shelves.

The Biden administration is working to address the shortage while the FDA faces questions from lawmakers such as Schrier. She sits on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations — the subcommittee investigating the shortage.

The real-world impact became clear Thursday morning when a mother shared her story in an effort to find baby formula.

“I had to drive once, multiple times all the way down to Everett and I live in Bonney Lake and I drove all the way down to Everett to get some formula. Not enough, only two cans I was able to find,” Ines Santos said.

The manager of the Bonney Lake Food Bank told KIRO 7 that in the last eight weeks, it has started serving 500 new families that had never received service before, and it was mostly due to the formula shortage and the ripple effects of inflation.

“It sends families into spirals of survival and these cycles that you can’t get out of and it evokes trauma, sometimes generation trauma. We cannot afford to not be able to feed our children. That is unconscionable,” said Stacey Crnich, executive director of the Bonney Lake Food Bank.

FDA officials have said the response to the formula shortage has been too slow and the decision-making was not handled well.

Schrier said she plans to pursue legislation that could make baby formula part of the Strategic National Stockpile since it is essentially like medicine.