SANTA FE — In response to a nationwide infant formula shortage, the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) launched the NM Infant Formula Support Network, a new Facebook group that establishes a space for New Mexico parents and caregivers to crowdsource access to formula and other nutritional supports for their babies.
“Although New Mexico is not experiencing as acute a shortage as some states, parents who rely on formula for their children are understandably anxious,” ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky said. “To help parents find the formula they need, ECECD has created a group where New Mexicans can post tips about where formula is in stock, offer up excess formula to those in need, and ask for tips on where specialized formula brands may be available.”
In addition to creating a forum for sharing information on where formula may be available, ECECD, the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH), and other state agencies will provide regular updates regarding the nationwide shortage, important nutrition and safety information, and state and community resources available to families with the group. The State of New Mexico is also coordinating with the New Mexico Retail Association and its members to post updates when new shipments of formula arrive at stores.
The national infant formula shortage has been an ongoing issue since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when formula was among the products stockpiled by consumers. In recent months, the issue has been compounded by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalls of several products, supply-chain issues, ingredient shortages, and over-buying by individuals concerned by news of the shortage. The NM Formula Support Network will be a stopgap measure for New Mexico families as recent developments, including reopening of a major domestic formula factory, increases in formula imports, and emergency efforts by the Biden administration, are expected to improve supplies within a matter of days.
“When fellow New Mexicans are in need, our state has always pulled together to support one other,” said Dr. Alex Cvijanovich, M.D., President of the New Mexico Pediatric Society. “We know formula supplies are going to improve in the near future, but while the shortage persists all of us can help support parents and caregivers by sharing information and resources to ensure New Mexico babies continue to get the safe nutrition they need in the coming days and weeks.”
The Department of Health Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is working to ensure its approximately 31,000 participants in New Mexico are getting the formula they need for their babies. For program participants who purchase formula at stores, the program is working closely with all WIC-authorized vendors to help them locate formula. The WIC program also directly orders and provides special formula as needed to participants who need them. Fortunately, the state WIC program’s main supplier is Gerber, which has maintained a steady supply of product.
However, the program does distribute some special formulas that are among the national brands recalled by the FDA. If a specific formula is out of stock with distributors, WIC staff reach out to individual participants and their doctor to discuss comparable formulas that can be issued in the meantime. WIC is in daily communication with its formula distributor to monitor the availability and status of specialty formulas that are ordered through them.
The state also provides funding for formula through the Child and Adult Food Program, which uses U.S. Department of Agriculture funds to provide nutritious meals in home-based childcare and childcare centers. Childcare centers and home-based childcare providers use the funding to feed infants in their care at no cost to the parents. The ECECD Home Visiting and Families FIRST programs are also helping families by responding to questions regarding the shortage, providing nutritional education, and connecting to available resources.
WIC participants who are having trouble finding formula should contact their local WIC office at https://www.nmwic.org/locations/. Additional information about the state WIC program can be found online at https://www.nmwic.org/. If you are experiencing formula shortages in your area, report the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Mexico Infant Formula Support Network can be found at: www.facebook.com/groups/nmformulasupport/