Agawam woman donates frozen breast milk to help mothers during formula shortage

We spoke with an Agawam woman who stepped up to help struggling parents feed their children.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:19 PM EDT
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AGAWAM, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - The company at the center of the nationwide baby formula recall has entered into a consent decree with the FDA.

Abbott Labs has agreed to correct violations at its Michigan facility after their shutdown impacted parents across the country searching for infant formula.

If a court approves that agreement, Abbott could restart its site within the next two weeks, but that is still a long time for parents to go without formula.

We spoke with an Agawam woman who stepped up to help struggling parents feed their children.

The ongoing baby formula shortage has continued to impact parents here in western Massachusetts who told us it has been frustrating getting hold of the product.

“I do have some friends on Facebook that I’ve seen posting a lot recently, posting pictures when they go, saying they’re having a hard time finding formula for their children,” said Shaunna Rowley of Agawam.

This came after one of the country’s major producers of baby formula shut down in February over bacterial contamination concerns.

Western Mass News has seen posts online from several local women who are stepping up to the plate to help parents in need. Shaunna Rowley told us that she donated her breast milk to a local milk bank after having both of her children and she had some extra frozen milk.

“I decided maybe somebody local could use it, so I offered it on the Agawam forum just to see if there was anybody in town or in the area that could use it,” Rowley said.

She told us someone did reach out to claim it, and said that mom was very grateful.

“She messaged me after, saying that it made such a big difference,” Rowley said.

On Monday, the FDA announced it had agreed to allow Abbott to restart its Michigan factory as long as it works with outside experts to upgrade its standards.

However, it will still be at least two months before any new products can ship from that site and arrive on store shelves, meaning the shortage will persist a little longer.

In the meantime, U.S. officials said they are working to allow baby formula to be imported from abroad to help with supply, something Rowley hopes will help parents soon.

“I’m glad for all the mothers and fathers out there who have been having a hard time finding formula to feed their children,” she said, “and hopefully, they can get some more product out soon so that they don’t have to stress so much about it.”

Experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics now say that whole cow’s milk can be used as a substitute for formula in babies older than 6 months if necessary.

If you would like to get more information about donating or receiving breast milk, you can contact the Pioneer Valley Breastfeeding Coalition.