LONGVIEW, Texas — Help is on the way for parents struggling with the critical shortage of baby formula across the nation.
A cargo plane loaded with 78,000 pounds of formula landed in Indianapolis Sunday. One step that's a part of the FDA’s “Operation Fly Formula.” The agency plans to increase baby formula imports from other countries with the next shipment expected on Wednesday.
In the meantime, local families are finding help right here in East Texas, either through donor milk or other organizations stepping up to provide formula.
Even before the shortage began Michaela Martinez turned to her community for help feeding her baby girl. Eight-month-old Olivia Kate Crowell cannot ingest baby formula but only breast milk.
"Our community is incredible and advocates for our family so much," Martinez said.
Martinez uses social media to find donors and ensures she takes precautions before accepting donor breast milk.
"We just request a medication list to make sure all the medications the donor mom is on are safe for breastfeeding," Martinez said. "We've probably had 50 to 100 moms donate to us over the last six months."
Social service organizations like Longview Community Ministries are doing their part to help local families as well.
"I didn't realize there were so many different kinds that these children need," said Griffin Day, director of development for LCM. "I myself am not a father, but I have seen the need for this. It's a massive deal."
When the formula shortage left shelves empty, LCM stepped in to help fill that void.
"Our goal here is everything that comes into LCM goes back out into our community, no questions asked," Day said. "So whatever we get in it's going back out to help whoever we can."
Moms like Martinez have found that help, and she’s very grateful. Martinez has this message of hope for families who are struggling right now.
"We're going to make it and we're going to make it happen, but this isn't our fault and it's not your fault," Martinez said. "You're doing the best you can and I think that's really important. I hope that this shortage can get sorted out quickly because this is the most basic human need to feed a child."
If you have questions about donor breast milk, contact your personal pediatrician for more advice. If you're a mother in need of baby formula then call or visit the Longview Community Ministries.