American parents stressed by the recent shortage of baby formula now have a new way to find it: A free, online formula exchange.
Keiko Zoll, a Massachusetts mom whose premature son once used formula, started the exchange herself.
“All I’m trying to do with this website is to connect people who need formula with people who have it,” Zoll told Boston’s NBC 10. “To take the marketplace element out of it because this is about keeping our children fed. And feeding our babies is a human right.”
Parents in search of formula can visit the exchange website and sign up in just a few minutes. The form asks for basic info — like name, phone number and email — but also if there’s a specific type of formula you need, and the communication method you prefer.
If you’re a person with formula to give, the sign-up process is just as easy. The exchange then links the donator with the person who needs it, and they take it from there.
No money may be exchanged using the tool. Zoll built the site with her own time and money, and she is serious about keeping it completely free.
”Cost should not be a barrier to feeding our children,” she wrote on the exchange site. “This is a mutual aid platform and no paid transactions are permitted between formula seekers and providers. We’re exchanging humanity, not dollars.”
The U.S. formula shortage started in February 2022, when a formula manufacturing plant in Michigan shut down following a recall. Four babies contracted bacterial infections after consuming formula made in the factory. Two died.
Combined with ongoing supply-chain issues, the temporary factory closure resulted in a shortage in formula on store shelves. (Lactation does not resume immediately on-demand and has its own challenges, especially for working women.)
Help is on the way — formula-maker Nestlé announced it would begin flying formula from Europe to the U.S. ASAP, and other manufacturers are also stepping up production — but it may take some time.
The formula exchange is up and running now, linking concerned parents with donors. And check out our advice on what to do if you’re having trouble locating formula for your little one.