How to Help Families in Need During the Baby Formula Shortage

Parents are struggling to find formula for their babies, and it’s beyond stressful. Here’s how you can support fellow families.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Updated May 19, 2022
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Image: Halfpoint/Shutterstock

As formula shortages continue to put pressure on families around the country, the government has worked to ramp up production and get formulas on shelves. Despite these large-scale efforts and the restart of production at Abbott Nutrition, experts expect it’ll be at least six weeks before new batches of formula hit shelves.

In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to support those who are struggling in the face of this shortage. We’ve created the guide below to provide actionable ways you can help friends, family and caregivers across the country. Because no parent should have to worry about where their child’s next meal is coming from.


  • Volunteer at your local milk bank. Breast milk centers throughout the country are experiencing an influx of donations and requests and may need volunteers to answer phone calls, screen emails and coordinate drop-offs and pick-ups. Locate your local breast milk donation center here and reach out to see how you can help.
  • Host a baby formula drive in your community. Rally your school, church, neighborhood or other community groups to donate formula for parents in need. Even though this guide is primarily for food collection, you can apply the same organization and to-do list to set up your own formula drive.
  • Work with your local food bank. Local food banks are often the first place parents turn to find formula. Volunteer with a food bank near you to help stock and organize items, answer phone calls and more.
  • Contact your senators. The grassroots organization Mom’s Rising was recently successful in their MOMibuster and efforts to push for government initiatives like the Defense Production Act to be invoked. That being said there is still work to be done. Call your senator and ask them to advocate forinitiatives to help end the shortage. Don’t want to call? You can use The Resist Bot to send a pre-written statement for you. Mom’s Rising is also collecting stories from moms impacted by the shortage and sharing it (anonymously if you want) with members of Congress. You can submit your story here.
  • Use your skills to help online organizations. New platforms committed to helping with the shortage, like The Free Formula Exchange, need your help. Use your skills to help with translation, pro bono legal representation, engineering and web development, and more.


  • Join local formula Facebook groups. Take photos of the formula inventory at your area grocery stores, donate formula and connect with caregivers who may need special formulas you have access to.
  • Share resources for how families can find formula. The Bump has compiled a list of ways to find formula here Send it to parents in need and share other resources you may find on social media.
  • Fight misinformation. There is currently a lot of misinformation circulating the internet around homemade formula and watering down formula. These practices aren’t recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and should be avoided. Instead, share guidance from board-certified pediatricians on how to navigate the crisis.


  • Donate breast milk. If you can donate, breast milk banks are currently a lifeline for parents in need. Call one of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America’s nonprofit member milk banks to talk about the process and if you are eligible to give.
  • Ship your milk with the help of Milk Stork. Milk Stork is a safe and effective way to send your breast milk to a friend or family member across the country. You can select different methods and sizes depending on your need.
  • Donate your unused formula. Donate your unused formula via a Facebook Group, the Free Formula Exchange Website or to your local food bank or United Way.
  • Donate money. Organizations like Sweet Cheeks Diaper Ministry and The National Diaper Bank have been using donated funds to purchase formula from wholesalers to give to families. Donate to these organizations or find a nonprofit near you that may be doing the same.
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