Jeff Fuentes Gleghorn
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams wrote a letter requesting an investigation of Governor Kemp and his administration after Georgia destroyed over 16,000 cans of baby formula during an unprecedented formula shortage. The letter asks for a three part investigation looking at how the formula destruction policy was put in place, whether the Kemp administration asked federal officials for input, and why the Kemp administration took months to end the policy during a formula shortage crisis.
Since 2019, Georgia has destroyed baby formula that is returned to the Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). The policy began in response to non-binding guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Nancy Nydam, spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Health seemed to imply that the federal government required them to destroy formula in a May email. Nydam said that Georgia WIC leadership asked FNS about “temporarily lifting” the requirement.
However, other states continued to allow WIC to donate returned baby formula to food pantries and similar nonprofit organizations. Texas, for example, never required WIC to destroy formula and directed WIC leadership to donate undamaged formula to food pantries. Michigan instituted a policy similar to Georgia’s, but reversed that decision less than a week after it went into effect. The federal government does not require WIC to destroy baby formula.
On May 20, Georgia temporarily reversed the formula destruction policy and directed WIC leadership to donate returned baby formula to local food pantries and nonprofit hunger relief groups. Even so, Georgia had the worst formula shortage in the nation at the end of May, with 94.4 percent of baby formula out of stock. Atlanta was tied for the worst formula shortage for metropolitan areas with 94.6 percent of formula out of stock.
In June, Democratic legislators in Georgia wrote a letter to Gov. Kemp. “[Georgia’s] families are the worst hit of any state,” they wrote, before pointing out that “to date you have delivered no speech, presented no plan, and held no press conferences about the baby formula crisis.”