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MD Gubernatorial Candidate John King and Running Mate Michelle Siri Release Statement on Baby Formula Shortage

5/20/2022 | John B. King, Michelle Siri

“Maryland parents should not have to worry about whether they will be able to feed their babies. Unfortunately, the recent baby formula shortage has burdened parents – as shelves in neighborhoods are bare. The government’s response has been woefully inadequate – with the Maryland Department of Health’s guidance only telling parents not to dilute formula, talk to their pediatrician, and see if they are eligible for WIC benefits. None of those suggestions get formula into the hands of the families that desperately need it right now.

The shortage is disproportionately burdensome for families who are low-income or have limited transportation options because they aren’t able to travel long distances to find stores that might have the formula their baby needs in stock. We are seeing Maryland parents take to Facebook, asking for formula and excess breast milk for their children. Meanwhile, fraudsters are running rampant on social platforms, taking advantage of parents who are looking for any options available to them. It’s an unacceptable crisis, fraught with health dangers and financial stress, and one we need to be doing much more to address right now.

We also have to plan for future shortages and to make sure our state has resources available for families who need it. In the immediate term, President Biden’s authorization of the Defense Protection Act will relieve some of the pressure by flying in formula. But the corporate monopoly that controls the baby formula market and caused this crisis in the first place cannot continue to go unchecked. Furthermore, we must see more proactive steps against price-gouging and marked-up resale of baby formula – something we are seeing happen during this shortage.

A King-Siri administration would prepare for any future shortages by working with the state Attorney General’s office to investigate any potential Maryland Antitrust Act violations, fund non-profit milk banks and expand on existing hospital programs so they are available for more people, and negotiate the state purchasing formula wholesale directly from manufacturers so it can distribute it for free across the state, prioritizing areas with more severe shortages.”