Stephen Flynn & Nadine Sanders on the baby formula crisis | Global Resilience Institute

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The U.S. baby formula shortage has reached a critical point. With the out-of-stock rate for baby formula topping 43% this month, empty shelves have left parents struggling to feed their children and at least two babies have been hospitalized, CNN reports.

How did we get to this point?

It all started with COVID-19, says GRI Faculty affiliate, Nada Sanders, a distinguished professor at Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business. The pandemic, along with the war in Ukraine, caused supply chain issues that led to some baby formula ingredients and packaging materials becoming less available.

Efforts have been made on the Federal level by President Biden to curb some of the effects of the current crisis by implementing the Defense Production Act (DPA) which makes the production of baby formula ingredients a priority. Stephen Flynn, Founding Director of the GRI, believes invoking the shows the severity and direness of the situation.

The DPA, which was passed in 1950, was intended for wartime, and for the federal government to step into the marketplace for the sake of national security, Flynn says. “[Invoking it] doesn’t happen very often at all. It’s the first time it’s been used in a food supply-like way.”