WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — Hundreds of Mid-South families can continue to feed their babies after getting free formula in West Memphis.
The city gave away 500 cans of Similac formula to Crittenden County residents Tuesday morning, filling a huge need in the community.
“It’s hard, because some stores might have it, some stores you might have to come back, or they might not have it at all,” said Alicia Thompson, who’s a mom of a six-month-old boy. “So it’s like, what do you do? Even with the cans, you have at home, you have to keep stretching them.”
“I know it’s hard on these people that do have to deal with a baby with a special formula because they’re not able to find it either because it’s hard. And it’s sad, it’s very sad,” she said.
Thompson was among dozens in Crittenden County families to pick up the cans of free formula outside West Memphis City Hall.
Local companies, In and Out Wireless and Crazy Hot Deals, donated hand sanitizer, wipes, and 500 cans of baby formula to the city for the giveaway, providing some relief in one of the states hit hard by the national baby formula shortage.
According to market research company Datasembly, while the national out-of-stock rate for formula is 74%, Arkansas’ is at 85.3%.
“You can’t find it in stores,” said Laurna Harris, another resident who picked up the formula for her six-month-old grandson.
“Once you get there it’s all gone,” Harris said. “The shelves are empty, so you have to hustle. I don’t know what the future holds, there’s a need.”
Harris was the first in a very long line that formed outside city hall hours before the giveaway began Tuesday morning.
“When you see so many people lined up, so many people have called city hall, you know there’s definitely a need,” said West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon. “This shortage has really hurt, not only our community but many communities around the country. Being able to step in during a time of need for the citizens of West Memphis is what I’m all about.”
Each family at the giveaway received two cans of baby formula, along with personal protective equipment.