CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Ohio Department of Health applied for federal assistance to help low-income families during the baby formula shortage.
That relief could come in the form of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) waivers that would extend even more flexibility to families using Ohio’s Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) benefits.
“The formula package is very, very prescriptive. Down to the ounces,” said Hope Lane-Gavin with the Center for Community Solutions in Cleveland.
Lane-Gavin said right now, the program limits mothers to certain brands, different amounts, even stores.
“Let’s say you get nine cans a month. The cans have to be 12.4 ounces and it has to be this brand and this color and this size,” she said.
Katherine Unger with the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio said low-income mothers are being disproportionately hit by the shortage.
“We have over 40,000 infants who are part of the WIC program in Ohio alone. Over 90% of them rely on some type of formula,” said Unger.
According to the state health department, Ohio’s WIC program is the ninth largest in the country. But Ohio was among the last states to apply for the additional waivers, according to the Department of Agriculture’s website.
Wednesday, the Department of Health said Ohio’s program is not contracted with Abbott, which had a plant close following a nationwide recall.
The state uses Meda-Johnson as a supplier of formula to low-income mothers.