As covered in previous Children’s Monitor articles, the families and children of the United States are suffering from the national baby formula shortage. Infant Formula is crucial to the growth and development of infants. Likewise, people with disabilities and/or chronic illnesses rely on formula for their health and survival. This crisis disproportionately affects those most vulnerable low-income workers, disabled populations, parents, as well as LGBTQI+, foster, and adoptive parents, which accounts for an estimated 292,000 children.
The Center for American Progress released two resources addressing this issue: “Addressing the Nation’s Infant Formula Crisis” and “The National Baby Formula Shortage and the Inequitable U.S. Food System.” As parents and caretakers face severe shortages and high prices these recommendations work to make sure this will never occur again through regulatory and legislative action:
- Increase oversight and accountability on consumer health and safety.
- Increase agency responsiveness on pandemic-and emergency- related issues.
- Federal legislation focused on social determinants of health would create an interagency council to promote collaboration and coordination across federal programs.
- Pursue permanent national paid leave legislation that covers all employees, including short and long-term caregiving leave, and adequate wage replacement for caregiving leave.
- Enforce existing workplace breastfeeding protections for covered employees and expand the types of workers not currently protected by the Break Time law.
- Enact regulations to ensure people enrolled in traditional Medicaid plans are not forced to pay out of pocket for breastfeeding counseling and equipment and require federal and state Medicaid plans to cover at least one breast pump per pump type.
- For Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition and WIC Act and the Farm Bill.
Rather than acting once the situation becomes critical, the Government needs to protect families and children through these measures. Legislators can create a truly responsive, inclusive, safe, resilient, and equitable food system for all Americans to have access to safe, nutritious food.
By Isabella Diez, Policy Intern