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Stoney asks for statewide response on baby formula shortage

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaks outside the Virginia State Capitol in 2019.
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaks outside the Virginia State Capitol in 2019. On Monday, he addressed the shortage of baby formula. (Photo: Crixell Matthews / VPM News) 

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is calling on Gov. Glenn Youngkin to declare a state of emergency in Virginia to help families struggling to purchase baby formula. 

“I cannot think of a greater emergency than the inability for families to feed their babies,” Stoney said Monday at a press conference held at Richmond City Hall.

Declaring a state of emergency would trigger Virginia’s anti-price gouging laws, which would prohibit businesses from hiking the price of baby formula. The demand for formula has been difficult for manufacturers to meet since Abbott Nutrition instituted a recall of some products several months ago, though the company announced plans to restart its plant.

Stoney also announced Monday that the city’s Office of Children and Family is developing a plan specifically to support families on WIC — a national emergency nutrition program for women, infants and children. 

There are 1,000 families on WIC in the Richmond area, and experts said they’re more vulnerable to shortages due to restrictions on the types of formula brands WIC will pay for, according to Eva Colen, the director of the Office of Children and Family.  

The city, Stoney said, also is investing $45,000 in two local nonprofits designed to increase access to childcare resources in response to the formula crisis.