'I need to feed my baby:' Middle Tennessee parents grapple with shortage and formula costs

Baby in need of formula
Posted at 3:03 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-28 10:42:29-04

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some Middle Tennessee parents looking for formula are at their wit's end.

For Alexis Graves and her baby, Gracelynn, the formula shortage has put them in a tough spot.

"It’s just very heartbreaking, and I know I’m not the only mom out there, but as a first-time mom only four months in, I never thought I’d be wondering if I could feed my child," Graves said.

She wasn't producing enough breast milk, and she said Gracelynn has a dairy allergy.

"We were going to do the Alimentum for Similac but due to the recall, our doctor did not want to do the Similac, so we went to Nutramigen," Graves said.

She said it's challenging to find Nutramigen anywhere.

"I’ve gotten scammed multiple times due to all of this on different types of formula groups with a bunch of money and stuff, and unfortunately have not been able to find it,” Graves said, “I have family in all different states looking.”

She said it's a financial burden as well.

"I was just trying to buy a 12 ounce can and it used to be $28 and now it’s $33," Graves said.

There's not a federal mandate to force insurance companies to help cover formula costs.

"I have United Healthcare through my employer that has Gracelynn on it, and unfortunately, they don’t pay for any prescription — my HSA my FSA and nothing,” Graves said.

She reached out to the state's WIC office for help.

"I’m in need, I need to feed my baby," Graves said.

As a last resort, she's now looking for a dairy-free milk donor.

"It’s very upsetting, I go to bed at the end of the day with everything happening, with the shooting, and stuff like that, and the formula — how am I going to keep my child safe?" Graves said. "Am I going to be able to feed her tomorrow? What’s next?"

Family impacted by formula shortage
Family impacted by formula shortage in Franklin, Tennessee.

The formula from Nestle that arrived from Switzerland is undergoing FDA inspections.

In addition, the Abbott Nutrition plant that's closed due to the formula recall is scheduled to reopen soon in Michigan. However, it could take months before that batch hits the shelves.

Check out our story on how a milk donor helped out her community.