Long Beach to receive 1,000 cans of infant formula from county as shortage continues

Long Beach parents in search of infant formula could soon have access to 1,000 cans that the city will receive from Los Angeles County, which bought nearly a $1 million worth of formula to help offset shortages in the region.

Kelly Colopy, the city’s director of Health and Human Services, told the City Council Tuesday night that the city was partnering with the county to help distribute the supply through the federal Women, Infants & Children program, where families can pay for the formula with vouchers, and at other community-based events.

To qualify for the distribution residents have to be on Medi-Cal, be employed without insurance or be enrolled in some other public assistance program like SNAP or use housing choice vouchers to help cover their monthly rent.

Jennifer Rice Epstein, a spokesperson for the department, said that it did not have the formula in hand yet, but once it does the plan is to distribute it all within 30 days. Rice Epstein said that the department would be releasing more details soon.

A national baby formula shortage began affecting the United States earlier this year due to general supply chain disruptions and the closure of a formula plant in Michigan.

The Michigan plant was run by Abbot, which makes Similac and is one of a handful of large producers in the country. The plant was recently reopened, again, after flooding forced it to close in June.

Months of shortages have seen grocery store shelves emptied of formula, leaving some parents searching for stores that have supplies and others buying up cans to ship to friends and family across the country as stores implemented purchasing limits.

The county announced in late May that it was purchasing $750,000 worth of formula to distribute.

LA County is not the only governmental agency that has stepped up to try and fill the void. The Biden Administration has been authorizing flights of foreign-made infant formula to be flown into the county to help alleviate the shortage, making millions of servings of formula available to American families.

The United States Food and Drug Administration announced last week that it was working to allow foreign manufacturers to permanently sell their products in the U.S.

The FDA said that since relaxing its rules to address the current shortage, more than 400 million 8-ounce bottles worth of formula had been brought into the country and multiple companies had expressed interest in continuing to sell to American consumers.

State and federal restrictions make it harder for low-income families to get infant formula

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.
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