The baby formula shortage in North Dakota is looking on the brighter side for those who qualify for WIC.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children aims to protect the health of low-income women and families.

Amanda Varriano, North Dakota’s WIC program director, says there’s a need and the program is doing what it can to help during this difficult time.

“The need has really fluctuated depending on what our distributors can get in. So, some of the things that we’ve been doing is first we look at the type of formula that we all normally think about is the powdered formula. So, some other formulas come in other forms which is concentrated and ready to feed and so we can get and usually we can get those forms if possible. For WIC we usually only have one source so we’re one company that we work with that we do a contract bid and then we’re awarded for X amount of years,” said Varriano.

WIC is also able to get overnight shipments if needed.

“We have a distribution center, and they are able to mail it to us. Other than that, Abbott is our main contract, but the formula companies have warehouses and distributors throughout the United States so they’re able to get that to us,” she said.

Families need to feed their babies, and Varriano tells us that North Dakota WIC is working to help those outside of their contractors.

“Been opening up the formula to other companies, not just the company that we have a contract with so we can provide a broader opportunity for WIC participants to obtain formula,” said Varriano.

In North Dakota, there is also a need for specialty formulas.

Not all babies eat the same food; there are cow milk-based formulas, soy, powder and ready-to-use formulas.

And WIC does its best to help those special cases too.

“We have been able to reach out to our formula companies and they have been able to meet our request so every emergent situation that we’ve had so far so cross our fingers that this continues is that we have been able to secure formulas for our families,” said Varriano.

With the state’s WIC program serving approximately 9,400 to 10,000 a month, Varriano tells KX News that it’s fairly easy to apply and get accepted for WIC in North Dakota.

So what are the requirements to join?

“Income eligibility requirements there updated every year and there based on, it’s 185% over the poverty level. So roughly about 50 percent of the infants in North Dakota would be able to be served, so women up to six months postpartum and up to a year breastfeeding and then children up to the age of 5,” she said.

Varriano also shared what parents who aren’t available to receive WIC assistance can do:

“Places like Walgreens, CVS, places that you normally wouldn’t shop for formula, a lot of people think of the Target’s and Walmart’s of the world, to go to those other places. A lot of times they do have some formula, or maybe go into a food bank, if there is any formula that has been donated is another option.”

She says because of the shortage, parents had to drive far and wide to find formula.

“We’ve heard of families driving up to 120 miles round trip to get formula, so it is an inconvenience to go to another location, especially when families on WIC probably don’t have a lot of resources,” said Varriano.

For this reason, WIC is here to help families across our state.