SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Parents in Sioux City are expressing their concerns about the lack of formula across the Siouxland area amid the formula shortage and recalls.  

Stores across Siouxland have had several instances of empty shelves when parents of infants were in need of baby formula, according to Siouxland moms.  

Walmart on Floyd Boulevard

Local mother Kelsey Abramo said she would normally buy her formula at Sam’s club because they have bigger cans that will last longer for her daughter. According to a release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), several formulas produced by Abbot had been recalled due to complaints of illnesses in babies. However, since August of 2021, she has noticed that it has become a game of roulette when visiting the stores.  

“I’ll just go between like Wal-Mart or Hy-Vee and look for any of the [formula] cans in general,” said Abramo, “All I can find is usually like those little miniature cans if there’s any left, and those only last about a day.”  

Abramo added that stores often have the premade formula, but they make her child sick so she can’t use them. While her child can eat some solids foods, Abramo said infants are supposed to remain on a formula-incorporated diet until they reach one year old. 

Siouxland mother Alexis Johnson described the struggle to find formula for her family as a “nightmare.” Her son needs a sensitive formula, which she indicated seems to be missing from the shelves across the entirety of Siouxland.  

“For a while, there was not a single store in Sioux City that carried the sensitive formula,” said Johnson, “We check Walgreens, Hy-Vee, Fareway, everywhere, and then there wasn’t a single place that carried it in a 90-mile radius. We checked Sioux Falls, we checked Omaha, and nobody had it.”  

Abramo said she has gone through similar measures to find formula and still coming up short.  

Wal-Mart on Singing Hills Boulevard, photo courtesy of Brieanna Rollison

“It’s very stressful to think like, what if you can’t find something for her,” said Abramo “Even trying to order it off of the Similac website, it says it’s out. […] You kind of get your hands tied when you can’t find what they need.”  

According to a report from the Associated Press, the recall of Abbot products contributed to parents’ struggles during the supply shortage that was already affecting the production of powder formulas. Resulting in the need to always be on alert when parents go to the stores.  

Johnson said the lack of formula has caused their family to nearly run out of formula which resulted in her family checking the shelves each time they visit the store because the thought of not having formula again is always on their minds.  

“It’s just scary,” said Johnson, “Like when you go to the store and there’s not any formula for your baby and you’re wondering how am I going to feed him if I can’t find any, which is scary. Luckily, we had some breast milk frozen that we were able to supplement with.”

Johnson added that when they reached a time when they were really desperate they tried a different formula, but it made her son sick. 

Johnson and Abramo both noted that the empty shelves often make them feel anxious and stressed. It can also have an effect on the mental health of parents, especially moms.  

“I just feel bad because I was breastfeeding and I just felt guilty,” said Johnson, “Like I should have made more milk or something, you know?”  

Johnson said that she’s been lucky to find just one store that carried the formula she needed, but it’s hard to feel relief when she looks at other parents’ faces as they look at the shelves, too.  

Additional information regarding the recall of formulas can be found on the FDA website, or Abbot website.