‘Memphis Formula’ group helps Mid-South mothers get through baby formula shortage

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The baby formula shortage is leaving parents across the country scrambling to find ways to feed their children.

That’s why new mothers in the Mid-South are banding together and have made a Facebook page called “Memphis Formula.”

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In the group, there are more than 300 members and dozens of posts from moms trying to help other moms find formula on shelves.

“It is absolutely nowhere to be found,” Heather Brewi, a mom of a three-month-old baby girl, said.

Breastfeeding was never an option for Brewi. Her baby wouldn’t latch, and her milk supply ran out at six weeks.

She now relies on formula to feed her daughter, but it’s been nearly impossible to find.

“I drove around three hours one day looking,” she said. “The app told me the Oakland Walmart had four cans left. I got out there, and there is nothing.”

The national baby formula shortage is due to supply chain issues and the closure of a Michigan factory that makes formula after safety concerns.

It is not only impacting families but the ministries that work to get cans into the hands of families in need.

“Where we could order 50 to 100 cans at a time, they started limiting us to 10 to 20 cans. When you have 200 to 300 families coming through, 50 cans is not enough,” Cori Smith, the executive director of Sweet Cheeks Diaper Ministry, said.

Smith said they started a formula bank right before the pandemic but recently had to stop regular distribution days due to the shortage.

“It’s kind of lately just been a one-on-one basis,” she said. “They can get it when we can get it.”

Smith said some families are turning to dangerous alternatives, including making their own formula, which may not have all the nutrients a baby needs.

As for Brewi, she’s looking into other options.

“I feel like donated breast milk is the next best thing for sure. That is what I am going to get for my daughter if I have to,” she said.

Smith said you can reach out to their ministry on Facebook about what kind of formula you need, and they will do their best to help you find some.

They are also looking for donations.

As baby formula remains scarce, the Better Business Bureau released a warning saying scammers are taking advantage and selling items that are never delivered.

The BBB is warning families not to fall for scams promising a good deal or availability.

Daniel Irwin with the BBB of the Mid-South said fake websites selling formula have already started popping up.

“They pay attention to the news just like we do,” he said. “Where we see tragedy, they see an opportunity to take advantage of us.”

If you’re ordering baby formula online, Irwin said you should check to see if the website is legitimate.

“Go to a website checker like scam advisor,” he said. “They will tell you really quickly how long the domain has been active and what country it originates from.”

As with any online shopping scam, Irwin said if someone reaches out to you or asks you to pay in an unusual way, that could be a red flag.

“If there’s a whole bunch of positive reviews and they are like canned reviews, and you start to see the same reviews on other sites, that’s another telltale sign it may not be real,” he said.

If you order formula from a site you’ve never heard of and end up getting it in the mail, be careful. Irwin said there is a chance it’s not what was advertised.