Baby formula shortage: This is how Houstonians and Texans can get help

HOUSTON – A baby formula shortage in the United States has left parents scrambling for options and alternatives to help feed their little ones.

Here are a few ways to get help in Houston or across Texas, if you’re one of those parents -- or know someone who needs help. (Be sure to share this story with them.)

RELATED: Houston pediatric dietitian answers questions about baby formula shortage

LIFE Houston

If you have a baby that is newborn to 1 year old, you are eligible for free emergency formula assistance through LIFE Houston. The organization requires appointments to ensure staff and client safety. Call (713) 428-2065 to set an appointment. All calls are returned within 24 hours. Go here for more information.

WIC

If you need help with baby formula, you could qualify for WIC, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. The program serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care. You can apply here for that program. You can also call 832-393-5427, and make an appointment. If you call, a Houston Health Department representative will help determine need.

WIC can provide both milk-and soy-based formulas for clients, and other formulas by prescription and in medically-indicated cases. Here’s more information. KPRC 2 has learned WIC has temporarily added more options to find formulas at the store to meet needs and patients are able to purchase alternative formulas without updating their WIC card. Here’s more information on those updates.

A WIC flyer, as collected on April 29, 2022. (Houston Health Department)
A WIC flyer, as collected on April 28, 2022. (Houston Health Department)

United Way

United Way of Greater Houston has a stellar directory of Houston-area locations that help new moms and dads with a variety of services, including help with baby formula. You can access that directory here.

Your child’s pediatrician

You can ask your child’s pediatrician for samples of formula. They often have canisters of formula available. Also ask for baby formula coupons. They’re sometimes available on the counter of the pediatrician’s office and can offer big savings on these products.

Federally qualified health centers

You can get help from a federally qualified health center in very much the same way you can from your pediatrician. In Houston, there are several federally qualified health centers including Legacy Community Health Centers. You can find one here (scroll down) by entering your city name, ZIP Code, address, state name or place name.

Federally qualified health centers are community-based health care providers that receive funds from the HRSA Health Center Program to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They must meet a stringent set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding fee scale based on ability to pay and operating under a governing board that includes patients. Federally Qualified Health Centers may be Community Health Centers, Migrant Health Centers, Health Care for the Homeless, and Health Centers for Residents of Public Housing.

Thursday, President Joe Biden announced he met with retailers and manufacturers such as Walmart, Target and Gerber to discuss ways to help families needing formula, laying out a plan of action that includes tackling price gouging and increasing imports. The FDA also ramping up efforts. Families in need are welcoming the relief.

“I can’t feed my child naturally, so if I can’t formula feed her what else am I supposed to do,” said Taylor Clonts who had a baby 6 weeks ago.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided phone numbers and additional links to assist parents of infants. You can access that information here.

More great guidance:

NY Times: America Is Grappling With a Baby Formula Shortage. Here’s How to Navigate It.

Legacy Community Health: Feeding your baby during COVID-19 infant formula shortages

Click here for a crowdsourced map of locations with baby formula.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.