The State of Illinois is taking a series of vital steps to help families get the safe formula they need in response to the nationwide infant formula shortage. In coordination with the USDA Food & Nutrition Service, Illinois retailers are encouraged to set aside formula for low-income families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program. State public health officials are urging families to purchase a modest supply of formula during the shortage, which is expected to ease in the coming weeks.
“We understand that the ongoing recall leaves parents and caregivers very concerned about how they will feed their babies and children with rare diseases and conditions who rely on formula,” said IDPH Acting Director Dr. Amaal Tokars. “We want to remind families during this time to avoid attempting to make ‘homemade’ formula, or to hoard supplies of formula from stores.”
“We have a special obligation to WIC families. About one-half of babies born in Illinois participate in WIC in the first year of their lives” said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. “We will continue to do everything possible to safeguard their development and access to safe, nutritious formula.” As of March 2022, there were 43,568 infants in the WIC program.
For families whose babies require specialty, metabolic formulas, the FDA recently informed Abbott Nutrition that the agency has no objection to releasing urgent, life-sustaining supplies of certain specialty and metabolic formulas on a case-by-case basis. Abbott has established a request line for patients and caregivers seeking access to their specialty formulas. The number is 1-800-881-0876.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has also trained caseworkers to assist families with formula questions through the IDHS Help Line at 1-800-843-6154. The Help Line is primarily designed for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC customers but is open to all residents of Illinois.
“The ongoing formula shortage has brought undue stress into the lives of new parents and my administration will do everything in our power to help families maintain access to formula,” said Gov. JB Pritzker. “We’ve partnered with our suppliers and continue to ramp up our support centers to ensure our residents, especially low-income families, have what they need to care for their babies.” Illinois contracts with Mead Johnson, the Chicago-based manufacturer of Enfamil, to exclusively supply standard infant formulas for Illinois’ WIC customers. Mead Johnson has increased production of its two most used products by over 10% in March and April and 60% in May, as compared to pre-recall. IDHS is working closely with Mead Johnson, retail vendors statewide and Catholic Charities to ensure all families, and especially those in the WIC program, can access formula. Illinois offers direct support to WIC-eligible families through a network of 96 local agency providers, including local health departments, community-based organizations and hospitals.
For more information, including a list of FAQs and the most current information for Illinois consumers, click here.