Baby bottle
Baby Drinking Formula - Photo courtesy of Lucy Wolski on Unsplash

With baby formula still scarce amid a continuing nationwide shortage, the Long Beach health department Friday announced it has received 950 cans of the powder from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and will begin distributing them to eligible families starting next week.

“We know many Long Beach families have felt the effects of this shortage,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “We are working hard to get formula into the hands of families and provide some relief to our parents, caregivers and children.”

According to a city statement, the cans will be distributed starting Tuesday at four locations. They are:

— St. Mary’s Woman, Infants and Children (WIC) office, 1043 Elm Ave., #401, Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon;

— Ron Arias Health Equity Center, 6335 Myrtle Ave., Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.;

— Silverado Park, 1545 W. 31st St., Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m., and

— Main Health Office, 2525 Grand Ave., Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

The formula will be available to families with children up to 9 months old that participate in a federal assistance program and have a need for food.

Each of the distribution sites will carry both Enfamil Infant Instant Formula Milk-based Powder with Iron and Similac Advance Powder Baby Formula, the city health department said.

Distribution is expected to continue through August while supplies last.

The U.S. baby formula shortage is in its sixth month due to a combination of COVID-driven supply-chain issues and the closure of one of the nation’s largest manufacturing plants because of contamination.

In response to the shortage, Los Angeles County purchased $750,000 worth of baby formula in late May.

“I know many parents and caregivers have been worried and anxious due to the shortage of baby formula,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in announcing the purchase on May 28. “As the county government, it is our responsibility to be the safety net for our residents and meet the needs of those most vulnerable.”

The city of Los Angeles has also taken steps to address the shortage, with the L.A. City Council last month ratifying a local emergency declaration by Mayor Eric Garcetti to prevent local price gouging.

“President Biden, the Federal Trade Commission and the California Attorney General have all warned of illegal and predatory conduct, including price gouging, in the infant formula market,” a City Council resolution says.

“The national shortage, while not causing the same shortages in the city of Los Angeles as in other places across the county, nevertheless poses an imminent threat to the ability of parents and caregivers to obtain infant formula in the city.”

Under the L.A. city emergency declaration, it is illegal for any person or business to sell baby or toddler formula for more than 10% over the price charged prior to the emergency declaration.

“As we see this shortage unfolding across the country, now is the time to prepare and take proactive steps to protect our families and most vulnerable residents,” Garcetti said on June 3 in his announcement about the emergency declaration. “This declaration should not be viewed as a cause for concern — it should instill confidence that we are thinking ahead and taking the proper steps to ensure that our city is ready to protect Angelenos.”

In Long Beach, more information on formula updates and resources is available at longbeach.gov/formulaupdates or by calling the LB Resource Line at 562-570-4246.

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