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California Expands Access To Infant Formula Amid Ongoing Shortage

Seen from over the shoulder, a woman stands in a store aisle and grips the corners of a sign that reads "Due to limited supply, we are limiting the purchase of baby and toddler formula to three per transaction." The shelves in the background are mostly empty.
A woman learns about the limited supply of formula at a store in Chelsea, Massachusetts. A lack of formula, the result of a perfect storm of supply chain issues and a massive recall, is leaving parents increasingly desperate.
(Joseph Prezioso
AFP via Getty Images)
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Amid the ongoing baby formula shortage, California has expanded buying options for low-income families with WIC benefits.

The state's Women, Infants and Children program, part of the state Public Health Department, assists families with food access, nutrition education and breastfeeding support, among other services. It's now offering 13 different types and sizes of baby formula for families in need.

The problem started last year because of the supply chain crisis. It worsened earlier this year when Abbott Nutrition recalled several brands of formula after four babies came down with bacterial infections and two of them died. The infections prompted the shutdown of Abbott's factory in Sturgis, Michigan.

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"It's been extremely stressful and everyone's very aware of the stress that families have," said Karen Farley with the nonprofit California WIC Association. "First of all, having a new baby is a challenge, and then being concerned about feeding them is extremely distressing."

Farley said more formula options will be added in the coming days and she hopes this will help make it easier on parents.

But the new options are temporary. WIC will remove them once the shortage eases.

Here are some tips from the Public Health Department on safely navigating this shortage:

  • Contact your local WIC office with questions about how the different formula options work for your baby
  • If you don't qualify for WIC, call your health care provider first to help navigate your options
  • Do not dilute formula or use homemade recipes, as this could risk harming the baby's health
  • Read more about the infant formula shortage at
  • Check for the latest updates at or use the California WIC App
What questions do you have about Southern California?