Watering down baby formula, known as formula “stretching” can have many serious and long term consequences for an infant.   Yet for many food insecure families, finding the resources to purchase enough formula is a severe problem.

In 2008 the issue of formula “stretching” gained national attention after an incident in which a 5 month old child almost died because of receiving formula in which extra water was added.  In this case the child was diagnosed with “water intoxication” and malnutrition and went into cardiac arrest. The child recovered, although long term effects were still unclear.

 The Supplemental Nutrition Program for Woman, Infants and Children, often referred to as WIC, provides nutritious foods to supplement diets of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5.  This organization also provides information on nutrition and breastfeeding and is an important resource for low-income families.

The West Seattle Food Bank provides information and referral to WIC for pregnant women and families with young children. However, two thirds of families receiving WIC benefits report running out of formula towards the end of the month.  A typical can of formula will usually cost around $20-$25 a can, which is a big stretch for a family struggling to pay rent and other basic expenses.   Through donations and purchases of formula, the West Seattle Food Bank can supplement the formula provided by WIC.

Other agencies partnering with the West Seattle Food Bank to improve the lives of children include:

  • Westside Baby In partnership with Westside Baby we distributed clothes, furniture, toys and other basic supplies that help young children lead safe and productive lives.
  • Within Reach, which visits WSFB every two weeks to inform families about the SNAP program and other food and health benefits.