Originally published in the Rapid City Journal June 15, 2022
In the past twenty years of working with kids, I have had the opportunity to meet hundreds of parents and young children. Before 2022, when talking to parents, you could sense their pride, hopes to expand their family, and enthusiasm to give their children a good life. Now, there's a sense of anxiety and fear among young parents. In addition to recovering from the stress and uncertainty of the past two years, a lot of the worry stems from a nationwide baby formula shortage that has taken parents by surprise. No parent in the United States should ever have to worry about feeding their children. Yet, in Joe Biden's America, that thought has become commonplace for families across our nation.
As the stock remains limited and barren shelves in the baby food aisle become more common, retailers and parents are struggling for solutions. It is unfathomable this would ever be a partisan issue. Yet, Biden and the Democrats' handling of the significant shortage of formula is all too reminiscent of its too little, too late lackluster response to every other crisis this administration has faced from day one. According to the Argus Leader, the formula shortage began in November 2021, with more than half of the supply gone by April. Biden, for his part, hasn’t taken responsibility for the disaster South Dakota families are experiencing. When asked if he should have taken steps sooner, Biden replied he wasn't a "mind reader" and said the administration had "to move with caution as well as speed," showing a lack of expediency on an issue that is quite literally an emergency for families across the country. According to Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Biden was notified about the baby formula shortage in "late April… in April… in early April." Regardless of when he became aware of the shortage, he seemed surprised while making his first comments on the shortage in mid-May: "all of a sudden, it's on the front page of every newspaper." The Biden administration had plenty of time to act. Instead, the crisis wasn't even communicated until May, giving families no time to prepare for the difficulties ahead- not to mention other entities that care for young children, such as hospitals, children's homes, and child care centers. The Biden administration blamed the formula shortage on "fearful" parents who literally could not feed their newborns. Then, Biden attempted to shift the responsibility off his administration by saying they aren't "mind readers." Now, they've tried to blame baby formula maker Abbott's plant shutdown for the shortage. In a country where our leaders have had to react to insurmountable threats and crises, this administration struggles to manage basic yet essential processes and procedures. It has repeatedly gone to extreme lengths to protect its own interests. The constant blame game is unacceptable, especially in the United States of America. To add to the hurt, friends, and family have had to drive hours to multiple grocery stores in hopes of finding the right type of formula for their child. With record-high gas prices averaging $5.00 a gallon and rising as a result of the Biden Gas Hike, the toll of driving 40, sometimes 60 miles one way for formula only exacerbates the costs they experience as new parents. The latest rash of ill-conceived advice is telling parents that they should give their children cow's milk. Cow's milk contains high concentrations of protein and minerals, which can stress a newborn's immature kidneys and cause severe illnesses, including heat stress, fever, and diarrhea. In addition, cow's milk lacks the proper amounts of vitamin C, iron, and other nutrients that infants need. The American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended the best diet and nutrition for infants should only be breast milk or iron-fortified formula during the first 12 months of life. Those nutritional, scientific facts do not change for the convenience of an irresponsible administration. Being a first-time parent can be challenging. Many parents receive valuable advice from those around them, but it can be hard to discern the good from the bad. A daytime talk show host recently shared her opinion that mothers concerned about the formula shortage should "Just breastfeed." This advice is not only embarrassing; it's completely uninformed. Women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, insufficient glandular tissue, or thyroid issues may be unable to produce their own milk. Mothers of multiples (like I was) may simply not produce enough milk to feed their children and must rely on formula. Baby formula is vital for so many children's growth and development, but mere months into their time on Earth, in the most developed country in the world, they are faced with food insecurity. Sometimes we get to pick and choose our battles, but this is one we can't work around. This shortage has long overstayed its welcome, but the pain new parents feel could have been avoided if Joe Biden and the Democrats had been proactive in mitigating a crisis they saw on the horizon months ago. We cannot make excuses for an inept administration when it comes to the future of our children. Mismanagement of our food supply is not normal, and it is not acceptable.