JAMAICA, Queens (PIX11) – Desperate moms continue to look for alternative options to feed their babies amid the formula shortage.
Judy Cheung breastfeeds her 7-month-old son. Unlike many moms, she is able to produce a lot of milk. “I’m fortunate enough to feed my baby and more babies. It’s very nice knowing I can help.” Cheung said.
Since the baby formula shortage began, she has been donating her breast milk even more. She drops her supply off at Jamaica Hospital. It is the only milk depot in Queens where mothers can donate their breast milk. The hospital has been seeing an uptick in donations during the baby formula shortage.
“There have been a lot more women becoming volunteer donors,” said Ivis Penalver with the Jamaica Hospital WIC program.
Panicked parents with newborns are growing desperate since the powdered baby formula shortage in February after several popular brands were recalled over bacterial contamination concerns and supply chain issues.
“I’m five months postpartum, so I can’t just pull out my [breast] and start lactating. Also, I never produced milk to begin with,” said Natasha Persaud, a Long Island mom who was forced to switch her baby’s formula because that’s all she was able to find.
“If more women donate, hopefully, there are more babies that can be helped,” Penalver said.
Jamaica Hospital has received over 2,500 ounces of donated breast milk in the last few months from mom donors whose milk was tested and screened.
“It gets packaged, sent to the New York Milk Bank and then they process it so it can be distributed to hospitals,” Penalver said. New York Milk Bank distributes the milk, but a prescription is needed.
During the shortage, lactation specialists warn against making formulas at home, diluting formulas and getting off-market brands. “Those home recipes are really dangerous,” Penalver said.
The United States produces most of the formula used in the country and has strict regulations on foreign formula. The Biden administration announced it is ramping up manufacturing and speeding up shipments of formula.
Moms are hoping to see shelves stocked again soon. “I wouldn’t want that for my own child so I’m more than happy and glad I’m doing it,” Cheung said.
Find more information on how to receive breast milk on the New York Milk Bank website.