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King County Council to weigh in on baby formula shortage

The King County Council is considering new legislation in response to the nationwide baby formula shortage.

King County Council member Reagan Dunn introduced a bill that would have the county procure baby formula and distribute it to residents in need.

“King County is seeing empty shelves where formula used to be. We need to do everything we can to get formula into the hands of families with babies in need,” Dunn said in a statement. “It is my hope that by acting quickly and proactively, we can begin to alleviate the shortage before it gets any worse than it already is.”

The bill will be heard in the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee before having a chance to go to the full council for a vote.

The procedural hurdles may not comfort parents who are scrambling for formula for their infants. Datasembly, an organization that specializes in providing data to retailers, put out an analysis of the baby formula shortage in April and found that Washington was experiencing an out-of-stock rate for formula higher than 40%.

The proposed legislation is about tasking the county with exploring ways to procure baby formula, including purchasing in bulk and collaborating with federal and state governments among other possible solutions.

Dunn’s bill also asks King County and Seattle officials to develop a strategy for caretakers to navigate the baby formula shortage and work with “community partners including WestSide Baby, Eastside Baby Corner, local food banks, and local jurisdictions to spread the information to the residents of King County.”

If the legislation is enacted, a briefing on the progress of these efforts is being requested by Aug. 1, 2022.

Jack Edgerton, the executive director of Eastside Baby Corner, a social service organization based in Issaquah, is in favor of the bill.

“Eastside Baby Corner has provided children and families with basic needs items like diapers and baby formula in King County for over 32 years. The current shortage in baby formula is unprecedented and comes at a time when many families are struggling to provide the basics,” Edgerton said. “This proposed strong partnership between King County and the human service community will help King County’s infants meet critical nutrition needs, reduce family stress and help children thrive.

The next Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee meeting is scheduled for June 7.

This article was originally posted on King County Council to weigh in on baby formula shortage

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