There is only one grocery store in the small town of Richland, Ca., where 36-year-old Sandra James lives. For the past few months, she has not been able to find a special baby formula for her 8-month-old son Kenson, who develops hives and loses hair when he drinks milk-based formulas.
First, she checked five Walmarts nearby and, after leaving work, drove for hours until she could find the special formula she needed. She sometimes goes to five or six stores a day until Alabama before finding a can.
Meanwhile, she gives her son more water and mashed vegetables and tries to prolong his formula for a long time.
“It’s just drain, very drain,” she said.
Parents who tried to buy online said they encountered not only high prices but also fraud. Two weeks ago, K-Ray Knolls, 30, of Oregon, sent money to strangers in exchange for cans of a special formula needed for his 4-month-old son Callan. The cans never arrived, and a few days later the seller’s Facebook profile was deleted, he said.
“People are very careful now,” he said. “It’s very heartbreaking that people are being victimized by this kind of scarcity.”
In San Antonio, Mrs. Marquez said he did not think he could have relied on the formula for children to keep his daughter healthy at such an early age. But then her daughter got the diagnosis and was told that only the special formula would keep her out of the hospital.
Since early April, he has been supplementing his diet with fruits, vegetables, ground turkey and other plant-based proteins.
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