Your Connection To Jazz, Blues and NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Local food banks, families hit hard by formula recall

Similac powdered baby formula with an expiration date on or after April 1, 2022, and a code containing K8, SH or Z2 with the first digits of 22 through 37 are part of a voluntary recall by its manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition.
Bing Guan
/
Reuters
Similac powdered baby formula with an expiration date on or after April 1, 2022, and a code containing K8, SH or Z2 with the first digits of 22 through 37 are part of a voluntary recall by its manufacturer, Abbott Nutrition.

Last month, Abbott Laboratories recalled some lots of Similac, Alimentum and EleCare powdered formula for babies. Five infants who consumed the formula were hospitalized with Cronobacter or salmonella, and two died.

The recall is putting financial stress on local families and the food banks they rely on to help feed their babies.

The Graham/South Hill Nourish Food Bank in Pierce County had to throw away nearly every can of formula on its shelves. That’s about 60 cans, or more than $1,000 worth of powdered formula.

In King County, the White Center Food Bank and Baby Pantry was in a similar situation.

“We ended up tossing about a thousand pounds of formula, which is most of our supply,” said Jefferson Rose, the communications director for the White Center food bank.

What does 1,000 pounds look like? Rose said to picture a shelving unit 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, full of formula for babies in need – and then throw it away.

It’s a huge loss for the food banks and for families.

Julie Wiesen, manager of Graham/South Hill Nourish Food Bank, says that when customers can't get formula at the food bank, it ripples through the rest of their food budget.

“So then they're having to purchase baby formula, which you know, can cost $18 to $25 or more dollars per can, which is really only good for a few days,” Wiesen said. “They're using their food stamp money then to purchase the baby formula, which is less food they can purchase for their family.”

And the cost of formula means it will take time to replenish food banks’ shelves.

Wiesen says many people who give to the Graham/South Hill food bank are former customers who want to give back to those who helped them. While they may have the resources to donate food, formula is in a whole other budget category.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

The formula recall is affecting all organizations that distribute formula. Check with your local food bank or family support center about what they need.

Nourish Pierce County runs 21 food banks. Its list of most-needed items includes formula and baby food. Learn more and donate here.

White Center Food Bank is asking the community to donate safe, unrecalled formula at local donation barrels or to direct monetary donations specifically to its baby pantry.

Posey produces, reports, and edits stories for Sound Effect. Before joining the Sound Effect team, Posey worked as a producer at KUOW and WNYC. She has also worked for The Moth and StoryCorps. She holds a certificate in documentary audio production from Duke's Center for Documentary Studies and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. She lives in Seattle with her wife, her daughter, and a fluffy dog.
Related Content