A Long Island, New York, couple frustrated by the nationwide baby formula shortage raised thousands of dollars to donate formula products to local shelters with infants.
Sheharyar Ali said his wife, Hina Ghani, was the inspiration behind their fundraiser, which drew nationwide attention, helping them get formula into the hands of parents in need.
Ali and Ghani, who have a 2-year-old son and a 3-month-old son, knew the gut-wrenching feeling of hunting for baby formula.
Ali told FOX Business their second baby was born in March, just after Abbott had shut down its Michigan plant over contamination issues.
Shortly after their second son was born, Ghani began to struggle with breastfeeding because the newborn had tongue-tie, meaning he couldn’t latch on to her nipple, Ali explained.
They were forced to use formula. But Ali recalled having to drive to multiple stores to find any.
Just like other parents, Ali also faced purchasing restrictions. However, those restrictions aren’t “even applicable when you can’t even find it,” he said.
the out-of-stock rate rose to 73.58% nationwide for the week ending May 29, according to recent data from Datasembly.
That’s up from the 45% out-of-stock rate reported just a few weeks earlier.
The situation became overwhelming, and, eventually, Ghani had a meltdown, Ali said.
“She felt she was a horrible mom,” he recalled. “She’s like, ‘I ca n’t feed my son. And now… there’s no formula… What’s going to happen to my son?'”
Ali said the moment served as a wake-up call for him.
“This is something that has been going on since February, and now, all of a sudden, in May, when the supply was completely depleted, there’s nothing left. Then the government, all of a sudden, wakes up and says, ‘Oh , you know, we think we have something going on,'” Ali said. “I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
Ali and Ghani’s are eventually had a procedure to fix his tongue-tie. However, Ali realized that a lot of parents have no choice but to rely on formula. Even worse, some parents don’t even have vehicles to drive out to find it.
To help, Ali used their foundation, Toys for Eid, to raise money and collect baby formula products for shelters throughout Nassau County in early May.
They started to spread the word through social media. Within a week, they received nearly $5,000. Word spread quickly about their effort. Eventually, people started sending them formula products from across the country from states like North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey.
The response was “very overwhelming,” Ali said.
Ali got in touch with local officials from Nassau County, who, he said, have helped tremendously during the crisis. They connected him with the local Department of Social Services. They were later able to donate over 250 products to eleven shelters in the area that serve infants.
Ali added that being a mother, especially to a newborn, is already “one of the most difficult jobs,” and that the job has gotten even harder.
“I think the government has failed us,” he said. “Mothers are crying and stressing about feeding their children, something you would think would happen in a Third World country or a developing country, not a country as powerful and as developed as … America.”
Even after his donation, Ali says he has parents reaching out to him every day for help.
“This was an issue that … people should have been aware of back in February. Now we’re in June, and we’re still dealing with this,” Ali said.