Families participating in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can now purchase more sizes and types of Gerber formula thanks to efforts by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to support families during the ongoing infant formula shortage. North Carolina contracts with Gerber to provide WIC recipients standard types of infant formula, and the sizes and types of formula available to purchase were previously more limited for WIC-participating families.
"Many parents and caretakers are worried about getting infant formula to feed their babies right now, and North Carolina is taking action to create more options for families receiving WIC benefits," said Governor Roy Cooper. "By removing restrictions on the formula options that WIC families can purchase, it will be easier to get the formula they need."
Earlier this week the North Carolina WIC Program began issuing benefits for more sizes of Gerber formula and for two additional Gerber formula products (Gerber Good Start Gentle Supreme and NAN 1 Pro Infant Powder). More than half of infants nationwide participate in WIC, and these changes will help North Carolina families who use WIC purchase the Gerber formulas that are available in stores during the shortage. Additional options for families participating in WIC are anticipated in the coming weeks.
“It’s vital that North Carolina families and caregivers have access to infant formula,” said NCDHHS Secretary Kody H. Kinsley. “Working with our federal partners and Gerber, families on the WIC program will now have flexibility at the shelf to select sizes of products that usually aren’t covered by the program.”
NCDHHS continues to update resources and guidance during the formula shortage. The latest resources are available www.ncdhhs.gov/formula. For families struggling to find the formula they need, NCDHHS has four important reminders:
- Remember that most families most have multiple safe options for their infants even if their usual formula is not in stock. If you can’t find formula or can’t find your baby’s typical formula, work with your child’s health care provider to determine the best feeding plan.
- Do NOT water down your baby’s formula to stretch it out, it can be extremely dangerous to your baby to do so.
- Do NOT try to make homemade formula or give your baby toddler formula before their first birthday, these can also be very dangerous to your baby.
- Do NOT buy formula from online auctions, unknown individuals, or unknown origins. Storage and shipping conditions may impact formula safety.
Other actions NCDHHS is taking to support families:
- Monitoring the formula supply across the state and keeping our partner organizations updated.
- Using available USDA waivers to help retailers continue to serve WIC-enrolled families during the shortage and help families return or exchange formulas included in the recall.
- Working with the federal government to waive additional rules for the WIC program to make it easier for WIC participants to access available formula.
- Providing guidance to local WIC agencies and health care providers to make it easier for health care providers to give WIC-enrolled families several options of formula types and sizes on a single prescription to meet their children’s specialized formula needs.
- Sharing additional breastfeeding resources for those considering breastfeeding or using any breast milk as part of infant feeding plans.
The WIC program serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, including breastfeeding resources and support, and referrals to health care.
NCDHHS will continue to update and share information, resources and recommendations with families, health care providers and community organizations at www.ncdhhs.gov/formula.