CHICAGO - The U.S. House of Representatives approved two bills Wednesday night to increase baby formula access.
One was to allow parents with WIC to be able to buy baby formula during this public health crisis. It passed 413 to 9. The other was $28-million in supplemental spending for the baby formula crisis.
The baby formula shortage has left some moms and babies in tears as they figure out what to do.
"I can’t imagine what I would do if I couldn’t get access to that formula," said ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson, a concerned Chicago mom.
Here at home, two days ago the Chicagoland Baby Formula Collection Project started collecting unopened and unexpired baby formula. Using a Facebook page, moms fill out a form explaining their need.
The three mom volunteers, including Knott-Dawson, drive throughout Chicago and the suburbs to pick up formula and in some cases, drop it off to moms in need.
"We have a database of people who have formula to donate and people that need the formula," said Knott-Dawson. "Luckily everyone that has needed it, we have prioritized and try to get a turnaround in an hour and get them connected with someone."
The start of the formula shortage was in February when two babies died.
Abbott, one of the largest manufacturers, recalled three popular brands of powdered infant formula and closed its Michigan plant.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced moves to ease the burden.
"The Defense Production Act gives the government the ability to require suppliers to direct needed resources to infant formula manufactures before any other customer who may have ordered that good," said Biden.
On Tuesday, Abbott and regulators reached an agreement to resume production at a previously closed facility. It will take up to eight weeks once production does resume for formula to hit shelves.
But Chicago moms can't wait that long.
"I’m also announcing Operation Fly Formula," said Biden. "To speed up the import of infant formula and get more formula in stores as soon as possible. I have directed the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services to go overseas to pick up infant formula that meets US food and safety standards."