Baby formula purchased by Maternal & Family Health Services through the generous support of Coterra Energy, Women Helping Women, and the Earle and June Wootton fund of the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains will be distributed to families in need in Wyoming and Susquehanna counties. MHFS associates in Tunkhannock on Monday included, from left, Kendise Dunn, Theodore Deitman, Thomas Fricke, and Dr. Maria Montoro Edwards.
Parents with infants were already struggling to keep up on supplies of baby formula due to supply chain kinks when the Food & Drug Administration announced a recall last week on three popular brands. Dr. Maria Montoro Edwards, president and CEO of Maternal and Family Health Services (MFHS), reached out to Commonwealth Charitable Management (CCM). She alerted executive director Christine Clayton of the dire need to ensure that 60 infants in Susquehanna County and 76 in Wyoming County have enough formula.
“They are estimating the shortage to last at least three months,” Clayton related. “That’s what they are planning for.”
MFHS estimates that, on any given day, half of these 136 children could be in danger of not having formula, which costs $50 for a can that lasts two weeks. “What makes this even harder is that low-income mothers are limited to purchasing from Pennsylvania-approved stores,” Clayton explained. “They can’t just use their WIC money anywhere they want.”
MFHS is bracing for the need by purchasing formula supplies from alternative sources, but the agency needs funding to do so. Using the aforementioned numbers, they have calculated that $20,000 is needed to cover the costs and get local moms over this three month hurdle.
Addressing such an urgent need in short order was made easier when Coterra Energy stepped up to donate $10,000 through the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program (NAP). Coerra’s NAP is administered by the CEO Weinberg Northeast Regional Foodbank, whose administrators recognized the baby formula shortage as a critical and eligible need.
“I reached out to Bill desRosiers of Coterra Energy and, within 24 hours, together with the CEO Weinberg Food Bank, $10,000 was on its way to MHFS,” said Clayton. “To say that we are grateful for their quick and generous support is an understatement.”
“I’m glad to be in a position to assist,” desRosiers wrote in an email to Clayton and Dr. Edwards. He and his wife have a two year old, whose formula was difficult to secure. “I remember the anxiety during the early days of Covid running store to store trying to find her formula,” desRosiers noted.
“MFHS is truly grateful for Coterra Energy’s generous donation that will go a long way to helping Wyoming and Susquehanna county families through the formula recall shortage,” Dr. Edwards wrote in response to Clayton and desRosiers. “Now, more than ever, families and individuals throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania rely upon MFHS for care that helps empower them to lead healthier lives and build a strong future. No parent should worry about how to feed their infant, and your gift will help to ease this burden.” The $10,000 gift should purchase 200 cans of formula for distribution.
The Earle and June Wootton Fund at the Community Foundation of the Endless Mountains contributed another $3,000. Then, the Women Helping Women Fund contributed the remaining $7,000. “It’s incredible when we are all able to pivot on a need so quickly like this,” Clayton remarked.
“I’m actually blown away that the community came together to take care of their own,” Dr. Edwards concurred. While she is optimistic that the formula shortage will abate, she added, “If we end up having to come back to the community again, I know that they will be as generous and responsive. The support WIC offers to families has been critical during the pandemic, and we are committed to meeting our clients’ needs throughout this challenging time.”
CCM will manage the funds for the MFHS through its existing Coronavirus Assistance Fund, which can be accessed online at https://community-foundation.org/fund/susquehanna-county-coronavirus-assistance-fund/. All donations made to the fund through April 15 will go toward feeding the most vulnerable members of the community.