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Ky. continues expanded baby formula choices for WIC participants amid shortage

Infant drinks milk from a bottle.
Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is continuing to offer additional baby formula choices to WIC participants as the nationwide shortage presses on.

Robin Gillespie, WIC manager at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, said the state typically contracts with one company a year to be able to get lower prices. When Abbott Nutrition – a major Michigan manufacturer – issued a voluntary recall and ceased production of formula in February due to contamination issues, the state expanded to include more options.

“That’s when WIC started saying ‘OK we can do any kind of formula,’” Gillespie said. “We’ve got to get these babies fed. We don’t want anybody going hungry or any babies not having access to certain formulas or anything.”

Kentucky made the original policy change in February and has updated it several times to add more types of formula. 

“We’re trying to be accommodating to these moms that one week they may find Similac on the shelves, the next week it may be Enfamil,” Gillespie said. “With the way that we're able to do it now, they can go to the store and whatever's there in that particular ounce size can, they can get it.”

Last week, President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to help boost the supply. 

NPR reports Abbott Nutrition could restart production as early as this week.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.