Urges states to adopt flexibilities to support families amid recall
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2022 – As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s coordinated drive to end the infant formula shortage, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is urging states to take advantage of flexibilities the department is offering in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC, to help families get the safe formula they need.
” We are acutely aware of the fact that many parents and caregivers are concerned about formula access and how their babies will be fed,” stated Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our team is committed the safety and health of all Americans. We are asking states to immediately act to provide maximum flexibility, information and support for WIC participants. USDA will continue to work with federal suppliers, partners, and other agencies to resolve this infant formula crisis .”
Since February’s recall, USDA and FDA have been closely working together to ensure that program participants and stakeholders have all the information they need in order to protect infants. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) immediately reached out to states to offer support and within days, announced a suite of flexibilities available, such as allowing states to broadly offer alternate sizes, forms, and brands of formula and allowing stores to accept exchanges of formula purchased with WIC benefits.
USDA is also in communication with Abbott, the manufacturer at the center of the recall, with Secretary Vilsack today calling on the company to redouble their efforts to ensure WIC participants have access to safe formula, especially those who rely on specialty formulas produced by Abbott.
WIC allows for the purchase of formula by moms and their families with young children. There are usually restrictions on what products WIC beneficiaries can buy and what shops can allow. USDA is working with states in order to ease those restrictions to reduce the impact of the shortage.
To-date, not every state has adopted all flexibilities. With today’s letter and ongoing technical assistance efforts, President Biden and USDA are strongly urging all states to immediately take advantage of those flexibilities to alleviate burdens across the supply chain and stand ready to assist with their requests.
USDA is continuing to work closely alongside WIC agencies in reviewing and implementing these flexibilities in coordination with their vendors. USDA also aske