A shortage of baby formula leaves desperate parents searching for food

In the small town of Richland, Georgia, where Sandra James, 36, lives, there is only one grocery store. In the past few months, she hasn’t been able to find a specialized baby formula for her 8-month-old son Kinson, who developed hives and lost his hair when he drank dairy-based formulas.

At first, I checked five Walmarts stores nearby, and drove for hours after I left work until I found the special formula you needed. I sometimes went to five or six stores a day as far away as Alabama before I could find a pack.

In the meantime, she gives her son more water and pureed vegetables in an effort to make his formula last longer.

“It’s just draining, very stressful,” she said.

Parents who tried to buy online said that they encountered not only higher prices, but scams. Two weeks ago, K-Rae Knowles 30, of Oregon, Illinois, sent money to a stranger for cans of a special formula she needed for her 4-month-old son Callan. She said the cans never came, and the seller’s Facebook profile was deleted a few days later.

“People are more careful now,” she said. “It’s really heartbreaking that people are taking advantage of this kind of imperfection.”

In San Antonio, Ms. Marques said she never thought she would rely on infant formula to keep her daughter healthy at such an advanced age. But then her daughter received the diagnosis, and was told that the special formula was the only thing that would keep her out of the hospital.

Since early April, she’s been supplementing her diet with fruits, vegetables, ground turkey, and other vegetable proteins.

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