New York state officials are moving to address the baby formula shortage that has affected supply chains across the country.
Gov. Kathy Hochul's office in a statement announced state health officials and the New York State WIC Program is monitoring supply chain disruptions that could affect participants and consumers.
At the same time, the Department of Health has increased its communication with formula manufacturers to monitor production of can sizes, supply and shipments.
The WIC Program is also being made available to help participants obtain formula through alternate stores and coordinate with manufacturers when supply is not available locally. WIC participants can call their local agency for assistance in locating products.
There is also a chatbot available for assistance online.
"In close coordination with our federal partners, New York State will continue to do everything possible to support New York families in need of formula for their infants," Hochul said. "My administration is committed to ensuring every newborn and child has access to the nutritional support they need to stay healthy. I urge every parent and guardian to take advantage of these resources and keep up to date with important information to take care of their families."
Hochul's office also warned against hoarding formula, which could further affect the supply chain.
Health officials are also recommending a range of tips, including contacting OBGYNs or infant medical providers for office samples or suggest a formula that may be more readily available in stores that is nutritionally similar and not to use toddler formula to feed infants.
Republican state lawmakers in New York earlier in the day in a letter to Hochul's administration on Thursday urged officials to take action to address the ongoing shortage of baby formula across the country.
The shortage stems in part from a recall earlier this year by a major supplier as well as broader supply chain issues that have impacted the economy.
“No parent should have to live in fear of not being able to find the formula they need to feed their babies," said state Sen. Sue Serino. "This shortage and the inaction we have seen surrounding it, is absolutely unacceptable and it will take committed partners at every level to boost production. New York State must do all that it can to immediately clear any barriers to access, streamline the supply chain, and get healthy, affordable formula into the hands of families who need it."
Serino, along with Sens. Daphne Jordan and Mike Martucci, made a series of recommendations for what New York officials could do now to address the shortage, including partnerships with food banks and charities, as well as a statewide educational campaign to help parents obtain formula. They also proposed using the state Department of Agriculture and Markets as well as the Empire State Development Corp to provide incentives for manufacturers.
“No mother or father should ever worry about whether or not they can feed their infant child," Jordan said. "In recent weeks, I have heard from countless families in my district about empty store and pharmacy shelves where baby formula should be – and parents with nowhere left to turn. New Yorkers are fed up. It’s time for Albany to unleash the full strength of our state government to address the crisis. The time to act is now."
As the problems surrounding baby formula access have increased in recent days, state officials have taken notice.
On Wednesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James warned retailers against price gouging while also urging consumers to report any efforts to take advantage of the shortage.