Milwaukee community organizations donate 1K cans of baby formula to area families

Families in Milwaukee hit by a continuing baby formula shortage will be getting some help Tuesday through a gift of a thousand cans of formula.

Hayat Pharmacy and Capri Communities worked together to provide the donation to Milwaukee Diaper Mission.

Alder Marina Dimitrijevic worked with the organizations to arrange the donation. Speaking at a press conference Monday, she said the formula would provide about 30,000 feedings for babies.

“When you’re already worried about COVID and schooling and child care, now you have to think about a formula shortage,” Dimitrijevic said. “It’s not normal. I don’t want to normalize this. Families should have the ability to have the nutrition available to support their children so that everyone can be healthy.”

The U.S. has faced a shortage of baby formula on store shelves for months. Last month, NPR reported an average out-of-stock rate of 43 percent for baby formula at retailers across the country. Experts have attributed the shortage in part to supply chain troubles and to a voluntary recall and the temporary shutdown of formula manufacturer Abbott’s plant in February.

Tamir Kaloti, cofounder and president of Hayat Pharmacy, said the issue hits close to home.

“I have a 1-month-old baby boy at home, and like so many families across the country, I have been struggling to keep him fed,” Kaloti said. 

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The shortage has acutely impacted some Wisconsin families, as Wisconsin Public Radio previously reported. Food banks in the state have run into troubles in trying to secure supplies of baby formula. Late last month, Children’s Wisconsin reported an increase in babies being taken to the hospital suffering from issues of malnutrition because of a lack of formula or inadequate substitutions.

Kaloti said the donated formula would not have made it to Milwaukee without the multi-group initiative. He said the work did not clear out supplies of other local organizations.

“None of us here are in the baby formula business, but we all felt it was our duty to activate our network and resources to give back to the community in a time of need,” Kaloti said. “Just staying on top of that every single day, just having that dedication to this cause, really, is what made it happen.”

Hashim Zaibak is the CEO, lead pharmacist and cofounder of Hayat Pharmacy. Zaibak said the business has access to a mix of large suppliers and small wholesalers.

“Because of the supply and demand, the price has gone up a little bit with some of the wholesalers,” Zaibak said. “We were like, ‘You know what, we’ll pay the premium price to get it in order to take care of our community because we know that Milwaukee needs us.'”

The donated formula will be distributed on a first-come first-serve basis starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hayat Pharmacy, 807 W. Layton Ave., while supplies last. While most of the supply is standard infant formula, Zaibak said there are also limited stocks of hypoallergenic and special need formula available.