2 New Jersey Assembly members start baby formula donation drive amid shortage
State Assembly members Vicky Flynn and Gerry Scharfenberger are trying to help New Jersey families impacted by the nationwide baby formula shortage.
They are collecting formula donations at their office located on the third floor of 1715 Route 35 in Middletown.
“Finding people out there in District 13 who have formula in their cupboards in their kitchen, and they’re giving it to us to find a home,” Flynn says.
Flynn is a mother of three teenage girls. All were raised on formula.
“When you were done with the formula, you wouldn’t use it anymore - but you would find someone else to use it because it is so expensive,” Flynn says.
Flynn and Scharfenberger have both been getting calls asking for help as parents experience trouble finding baby formula.
Scharfenberger is a grandfather and says he has also been impacted by the shortage.
“We’ve gone all over the state and each one in the family – my wife, me, my daughter and son-in-law are all on the lookout for formula,” Scharfenberger says.
There is movement nationally to get empty store shelves restocked. The Abbott plant in Michigan will reopen within two weeks. Production on three of their most popular brands - Similac, Alimentum and Elecare - stopped following a recall and plant closure forced by the Food and Drug Administration.
Abbott CEO Robert Ford said in a statement, “We look forward to working with the FDA to quickly and safely reopen the facility.”
The FDA says that four children became sick due to a bacterial infection from ingesting formula from the plant. Two children died.
It could be six to eight weeks before the formula made at the Abbott facility is seen on store shelves. The White House has asked companies to start producing more. Gerber is increasing production by 50%, and Ricketts is boosting production by 30%.
Flynn says their boxes of donations are emptying pretty quickly, which means the effort to help families in need is working.
"As soon as we get in, we find someone to whom to give it to,” she says.
The two Assembly members say they are concerned some parents may fall victim to price gouging. They've recently reached out to the state attorney general to act.