By Dillon Thomas

WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As a national shortage of baby formula continues to impact young parents across Colorado, now the issue has started to reach a crisis level. Many parents who are financially stable have started to contact area food banks in search of formula.

(credit: CBS)

According to Weld Food Bank in northern Colorado, their staff has not had one single can of formula donated in nearly a month, meaning parents of all financial backgrounds are competing for the same goods elsewhere. Some staff with Weld Food Bank said their typical visitors already have a hard time affording pricey foods like formula, and the scramble to pay top dollar for the few remaining cans at stores is challenging for those on restricted incomes.

“We haven’t seen a can of baby food being donated in weeks and weeks,” said Bob O’Connor, CEO of Weld Food Bank. “We are not in a position at this point to help anybody.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, food banks saw a dramatic spike in Coloradans needing their assistance. The demand dropped significantly as many returned to work. However, as gas prices and groceries soar in price once again, people are returning to the food banks.

“In the last week that has really picked up, in the requests we are getting from folks (for formula),” said Stephanie Gausch of the Weld Food Bank.

In the past two weeks, the Weld Food Bank has started its day fielding dozens of calls from residents searching for formula for their babies.

“Individuals are getting very desperate. They are looking for formula,” O’Connor said.

Even before the shortage, the Weld Food Bank did not receive regular and scheduled donations of formula. They relied on families and local hospitals to donate any extra samples of formula they may have been shipped.

(credit: CBS)

As of Monday afternoon, the Weld Food Bank only had one single can of formula available for someone in need. However, it was a specialty blend that most parents can’t use for their child.

“I think it puts women, mothers and children in a really dangerous situation,” Gausch said.

Gausch said one of the most heartbreaking parts of not having formula comes with seeing how the current economic crisis is impacting parents who are trying to provide for their children.

Gausch recalled speaking with a local woman who said she was spending so much time and money trying to secure nutritional food for her children that she, herself, was no longer able to afford the food she needed which could cause a domino effect.

“She was worried she wouldn’t be able to provide the nutrition to herself to produce breast milk, and she was no longer going to be able to feed her baby,” Gausch said.

“We are here to help people. And to have to say to a parent who probably has a newborn that, ‘gee I’m sorry, we can’t help you.’ That is really tough to do,” O’Connor said.

(credit: CBS)

Parents who have extra formula that they no longer need are asked to donate it to their local food pantry, or to a family in need. The shelf life on the cans of formula often lasts several years.

Dillon Thomas