HAUPPAUGE, NY—Suffolk County Legislator Dominick Thorne announced at a press conference this week that the 18-member Suffolk Legislature has partnered with Island Harvest Food Bank in an emergency baby formula collection drive. All 18 legislative district offices will serve as drop-off points. There is a 40% decline in formula supplies across the United States.
"The legislature has come together to ensure that every community across Suffolk County will have a central location to donate any unopened or donated baby formula they may have or can find," said Thorne. "None of us can imagine having a hungry newborn or infant crying for food and not being able to provide the most basic of needs to our child. We hope every resident of the county can assist any parents who desperately need formula."
"I thank all of my colleagues in the Suffolk County Legislature for supporting this effort," said Thorne. The legislature has partnered with Island Harvest Food Bank. The organization will collect donations and ensure the formula is distributed to the community.
"Families most in need are already struggling with putting food on their tables due to the high cost of food, gasoline, and other essential items, and the shortage of infant formula is adding to their stress," said Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. "We are grateful to the Suffolk County Legislature for stepping up and conducting this drive to help the populations we serve secure much-needed infant formula during this unprecedented shortage."
Two specialists from Northwell Health were also on hand to warn of the dangers of watering down the formula to make supplies last longer and announce that Northwell is also working to provide formula to Island Harvest and others during the shortage.
"Nutrition is key to a healthy immune system. Infants require a specific amount of calories per day for adequate growth. All of the ingredients in formula are balanced to support the bodies organ systems which is critical for the brain and nervous system development, vison, bone, and muscle growth," said Patricia Mele, DNP, NNP-BC, Director Perinatal- Neonatal Services
Peconic Bay Medical Center. "Mothers should not dilute their formula because an infant's fluid and electrolyte balance are vital for well-being. Diluting or thinning the formula with water or other liquids can cause serious health issues including neurologic injury or even causing seizures."
"The ongoing infant formula shortage is a major strain on families of newborns and infants across our region. It is imperative that we focus on access to appropriate nutrition for all newborns and infants," said Adriann J. Combs, DNP, NNP-BC, Clinical Director, Associate System Director of Quality and Patient Safety Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwell. "Strategies that support all methods of nutrition, including pre-delivery education about breastfeeding and ongoing breastfeeding support after delivery, in addition to increasing the formula supply, is a priority. The healthcare community needs to come together to support infants and their families during this ongoing crisis."
The national shortage of baby formula is the result of the shutdown of an Abbott facility in Michigan. The company accounts for almost half of formulas produced in the United States and, coupled with post-COVID supply chain issues, has resulted in an emergency for all parents of children who still require formula for their nutrition.
"This is a public health emergency," said Thorne. "As the father of two young children, the thought of them not having food, or for any baby to be hungry, cannot be a reality. So we must do all we can to help alleviate some of the pain of this crisis."