SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WAND) - Gov. JB Pritzker announced Illinois is working to help families get through a national baby formula shortage with a series of steps.
The state is encouraging retailers to set aside formula for low-income Illinois families who are enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The Illinois Department of Human Services has trained caseworkers to help families with formula questions through the IDHS Help Line, which can be reached by dialing 1-800-843-6154.
The Help Line is open to all residents of Illinois, the state said, even though it is designed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC customers.
“The ongoing formula shortage has brought undue stress into the lives of new parents, and my administration will do everything in our power to help families maintain access to formula,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “We’ve partnered with our suppliers and continue to ramp up our support centers to ensure our residents, especially low-income families, have what they need to care for their babies.”
“We have a special obligation to WIC families. About one-half of babies born in Illinois participate in WIC in the first year of their lives” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. “We will continue to do everything possible to safeguard their development and access to safe, nutritious formula.”
Families are urged to buy only a modest supply of formula. The shortage is expected to ease in the coming weeks.
On Monday, baby formula producer Abbott announced it reached an agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reopen a Sturgis, Mich., plant where formula is made. Abbott's plant was closed after four infants became ill from bacterial infections. They had consumed formula from the facility. Two of the infants died.
When Abbott is able to resume production, it said a return of products to shelves will take about six to eight weeks.
During the week of May 8, CNBC reported over 40 percent of baby formula in America was out of stock. According to Illinois officials, the shortage was not only caused by the Abbott situation, but also was related supply chain problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
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