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As the baby food shortage continues across America, a Louisiana mom who relies on a Facebook group to get the formula she needs for her preterm newborns wants to remind others that the crisis is still dire — and this one. should not be buried or ignored.
“We have been put in a position where no mothers should be placed,” Amber Bergeron of Sorrento, Louisiana, told Fox News Digital.
“We feel helpless. We feel that as a community we are trying to take care of this instead of” [the right people] intervene,” she added. “People don’t pay attention to what’s really going on here and the seriousness of it, but it’s still happening. It’s like they just forgot.”
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She continued: “Formula is not something you should be without…” she said.
“I’m sure they’ll find a way.”
Bergeron said she and her family were first hit by the formula shortage not long after her twins – daughter Sky (who has a moderate heart defect) and son Storm – were born on April 10, four weeks early.
Her babies spent nearly two weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Both children arrived weighing 5 pounds, 3 ounces.
Both babies were iron deficient — and they lost a pound each.
Bergeron was unable to find the brand of formula that provided the necessary higher nutritional levels for preemies, which was recommended by her family pediatrician, she said. At one point, Bergeron only had one can left—enough to feed the babies for just one day.
“The other formula has more nutrients, vitamins D, E, K, and iron that the other formulas don’t,” says Bergeron, who has four children.
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After Sky and Storm were released from the hospital, their blood tests showed that both babies had iron deficiencies — and they lost a pound each. Bergeron said this happened because she had no choice but to offer her twins a different formula brand that didn’t contain the extra vitamins.
“I’m sure these politicians’ babies are eating. I’m sure they’ll find a way.”
Bergeron said doctors are not recommending her to breastfeed because she is on prescription medications. Prior to the birth of her twins, she couldn’t stock up on formula because she didn’t know which brand would meet their health needs.
Bergeron said she and her husband, Craig, spend $500 a month to feed their twins. She has even gone as far as to contact the hospital where Sky and Storm were born and ask to buy formulas from them, but officials told her it was against policy to sell to her, she said.
“When I had that one can, I was so desperate and beside myself,” she added.
The baby food shortage has taken its toll on many American families over a period of months this year.
The shortfall is due to labor and supply chain disruptions, product recalls and the related plant closure of Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan.
Abbott Nutrition is one of the top four producers of baby food in the US. Its competitors include Nestle USA, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Perrigo Pediatrics.
Parents and caregivers have resorted to alternative solutions, such as buying formula online or driving out of state in search of formula.
Many parents have joined social media groups to sell and barter formulas, including Bergeron herself, who eventually met Leann Westman, another mother.
Parents post warnings to each other
Westman is a Baton Rouge mom who helps four other women run the Facebook group known as “Formula Spotted 225.” Parents will post warnings on the page when store shelves are replenished with formula.
When Bergeron approached the group after her twins were born, Westman replied.
“It makes me angry that five women in Baton Rouge have done what the government couldn’t do, and that we are feeding babies in our area.”
“She immediately contacted me and explained that she would exhaust all options to ensure my babies would be fed,” Bergeron said of Westman.
“Miss Leann was able to take care of me when I only had one can [of formula]†
Westman said that Victoria Greer, another Louisiana mom, started the group for friends looking for a formula.
The two women got in touch after Greer noticed Westman posting photos of filled shelves for her own Facebook friends. Westman was also looking for a formula for her own daughter, who is 11 months old.
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Westman became group admin and it “snowballed from there,” Westman told Fox News Digital in a phone interview.
She now has a baby food pantry in her own home and helps 5 to 10 mothers a day.
“It makes me angry that five women in Baton Rouge have done what the government couldn’t do, and that we are feeding babies in our area,” Westman said.
Westman has tried to speak to her local politicians about the matter; she called into a town hall meeting in May to discuss the shortfall. However, she said the main topics that came up during that particular call were social security taxes and dredging canals to protect flooding.
“Those things can wait,” Westman said. “Babies can’t wait for their next meal.”
Westman said she’s helped mothers all the way to Mississippi. She “meets them in the middle” or invites them to visit the baby food pantry. Westman and her fellow Facebook group members collect donated cans.
She said that on one particular day, a woman drove about 40 minutes to pick up a can of formula – and kindly asked Westman for a bottle of water.
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“As soon as I gave it to her, she mixed the formula because her baby was screaming,” Westman recalls.
“In our country in 2022, what we as Americans have been reduced to — it’s making me sick.”
Westman said she offers each family she meets for the first time one of the two, or encourages them to take only what they need.
She also accepts monetary donations, which she also uses to purchase more formulas.
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Bergeron said Westman drove 30 minutes to meet her and gave her eight free cans of formula. Bergeron said Westman will buy her a formula if she finds her brand. Bergeron will refund her $15 per can — $5 cheaper than stores charge for her branded formula.
Westman said she helps Bergeron with money out of her own pocket. “She’s my special case,” Westman said.
“I am forever grateful to this group, as well as family, friends and even strangers for making sure these babies are fed,” Bergeron said, adding that she and Westman have become friends.
Bergeron recently received 19 cans of formula from her parents and some friends.
She now has 10 cans. “That means 10 days [of feedings],” she said.