ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – There are a few extra cans of infant formula in Julia Walker’s apartment, but they won’t remain long. Walker, who has a 1 year old transitioning with formula, couldn’t find it when she needed it.
“Got first-hand experience of just that dreaded feeling where your heart just sinks and you’re stressed out because it’s not on the shelf, and what you’re seeing on TV has become your reality,” she said. “We were trying to get her to go from formula to whole milk and you have to mix it… And there was none.”
It wasn’t just her own pursuit of formula, but other moms. She got a call about a family taking in a new child with no formula to feed the baby.
“As the days progressed, the need became more and more.”
So the nonprofit she started to help feed people during the COVID pandemic, Hope, Connection and Community, pivoted. She will spend her days looking for formula to get to people and delivering it.
“It’s chaotic. It’s a beautiful mess is what it is.”
Even a brief lunch break at work is full.
“I’ll pick something up. I’ll drop my daughter off at daycare and then I’ll run to the grocery store, and then I’ll run home, make sure I’m here for a drop-off. Make sure I can run and go deliver something if somebody can’t pick it up.”
Volunteers are helping, and she is looking for and sharing information on a Facebook page called “Where is Formula – Colorado,” started by a Greeley woman.
Not far away at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Health Foundation, the mothers’ milk bank is busy and getting busier.
“We’re trying to increase our production and increase the number of donors we have so we can meet that need,” said Rebecca Heinrich, Director of the bank.
The bank typically is a critical supplier of mothers’ milk to neo-natal intensive care units.
“We need to make sure that our hospital customers have the milk that they need first, and then with that really we’re trying to make sure that we can offer it first of all to the fragile infants. Infants who have feeding intolerances. Infants who can’t use an alternative formula if their own typical formula isn’t available,” said Heinrich. “We do serve anyone in the community who has a need for donor human milk.”
The number of people offering to help has increased along with the demand. They are still looking for more donors.
“I would encourage anyone that has extra milk in their freezer to give us a call, or to go to our website… to start the process.”
Walker is getting help from volunteers. One will drive from the metro area to Greeley and back Tuesday morning for six cans of formula. The effort has become community-driven quickly because the need is great.
“I’m worried about parents reaching a point of fear and desperation that they don’t know what else to do and so they start using things that maybe they shouldn’t or they dilute, or they turn to milk or I don’t know, make their own,” said Walker.