SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — If you walk into any grocery store in Sioux Falls you will be hard pressed to find formula for an infant. And if you’re one of the lucky few who finds a container left on the shelf, it likely won’t be the one that you need.
But if you open the Facebook app, a group of nearly 500 South Dakota moms not only have formula to give away but are using the social media site to direct moms in the Sioux Falls area to stores that have recently restocked their formula options.
For three Sioux Falls moms, social media has proven to be their main source of formula for their newborn babies.
Sioux Falls mom Gloria Beyer is the mother to a set of 11-week-old twins and says finding formula has been difficult.
“We have preemie twins, they were born six weeks early so they have to be on specific formula, and we can’t find any in the tri-state area,” Beyer said.
Right now, Beyer is relying on samples from her pediatrician on a weekly basis but with two babies, the formula doesn’t last long. Which is why she turned to Twitter to ask if anyone had extra Neosure formula. Her tweet received hundreds of retweets and responses.
That led Beyer to working with people in California who have been finding the formula at the store and then mailing it to South Dakota. Beyer then takes what she needs for her family before distributing the rest of the formula to other Sioux Falls moms through a Facebook group.
“Every time I’ve been going to the store, I’ve been taking pictures,” Beyer said. “I’ve been keeping in contact with moms from that group on Facebook and if I see what they need I’ll send them a picture and let them know and say, ‘hey if you need me to pick it up, I can pick it up and you can come get it from me.’”
Mother of three, Andrea Parmley has also been struggling to find formula in South Dakota. Parmley’s five-month-old daughter has a dairy sensitivity and can only use specific formulas. Before the shortage, Parmley relied on Walmart and Target to find the product.
Now, she’s relying on out-of-state help and Facebook.
“My dad literally had to drive an hour out of his town [in Iowa] and then bring it back here, two and a half hours away just to make sure his granddaughter is fed,” Parmley said.
Parmley said she knows of other mothers who are driving from Sioux Falls to Yankton or even Rapid City just to find an extra can of formula. For her family, they are stocked on the formula to last them two more weeks. But after that, she fears for what they will do next.
“It’s super scary,” Parmley said. “What if in two weeks from now… Does she not get a meal? Is she going to be losing weight? It’s super scary.”
Parmley said not only is the shortage taking up a lot of time trying to find formula, but it’s costing a lot in gas money as she and her family drive around town searching stores for stock.
Like Parmley and Beyer, Sioux Falls mom Serena Voller is struggling to find formula for her six-month-old son.
“I have a freezer full of breast milk that he won’t drink so I’ve donated that, too,” Voller said. “So, you’re between a rock and a hard place. How are you supposed to feed your child if the formula is in the mail somewhere for the next eight weeks?”
Like other moms in the area, Voller has reached out beyond South Dakota’s borders to find stock going as far as receiving formula via mail from a friend in Arizona.
Right now, Voller is considering the possibility of introducing dairy milk to her son’s diet earlier than they had expected due to the shortage.
“If there’s nothing else available, I don’t know what else to do,” Voller said. “It’s all the stuff you’ve been told not to do until after a year and then you’re faced with a decision to either wait it out for more formula to come or take that risk.”
Voller finds the Formula Watch Facebook page to be a great help for moms in the southeastern part of the state. Not only has she used it to find formula for herself, but also to give away formula to other moms who need it.
“If you’re in a bind that day and need it you can look at that and easily find, well Lewis here has it or Walmart got a new shipment, Costco has this shipment. It’s been very helpful,” Voller said.
Parmley said she’s been amazed by the support of moms within the community using social media to get formula to those who can’t find it.
“You would never think to use someone’s open can of formula, like that would just be a no,” Parmley said. “But now with this it’s absolutely ‘give me it.’ I need anything.”
For now, these Sioux Falls moms plan to continue using existing support groups and social media to find formula. That includes helping people they don’t know, for no cost.
“Our kids need to be fed so we’ll do whatever we need to do,” Beyer said.