Dearborn ran out of baby formula 30 minutes into giveaway event

Hannah Mackay
The Detroit News

Dearborn — More than 100 cars waited in line for baby formula Friday at the Dearborn Department of Public Health's emergency, drive-thru baby formula distribution event at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center. 

Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud and the health department began trying to procure as much formula as possible to give to residents to address the local effects of the nationwide baby formula shortage, according to Dearborn Public Health Director Ali Abazeed.

"We called partners internationally, we called folks that we know in other states... calling Costco's and CVS's and brick and mortar mom and pop shops to see if we can get five, if we can get 50, if we can get 100," Abazeed said. "Over the last couple of weeks, we partnered with stakeholders across the city, and did what we can to help alleviate the pain and suffering that families across Dearborn are dealing with."

Dearborn Department of Public Health fellows Jenna Chami, left, of Livonia, and Amira Haidar, of Dearborn, talk to motorists to determine their baby formula needs, Friday morning, May 27, 2022.

The health department had about 500 containers of baby formula for the event, the majority of which were donations, Abazeed said. All the containers were given out within half an hour of the event's 10:30 a.m. start, according to Dearborn Communications Director Bilal Baydoun.

"We called nonprofits across the city, and they basically took it upon themselves to shop around, stop at 10 stores in a day, travel across the Ohio border to Toledo to Illinois, and to do what they can to help secure the formula for us," Abazeed said.

There was so much interest officials had to scale back a plan to give each household up to five containers of formula. 

"We had originally hoped to give more per car but we had to cut back," Dearborn Public Health fellow Hassan Kourani said. "Some of the more popular ones get limited to two or three, some of the ones that last a little bit longer we're giving four or five."

Dearborn resident Posleh Kaid had been waiting in line for 2 hours to secure formula for his one-month-old grandson when he learned there might not be enough.

"They said they might not get to us, you might not get anything today," Kaid said. "I get to so many places and they say they don't have it (baby formula)." 

Kip Mrkva, the first person to secure formula, had been waiting since 7 a.m. 

Kip Mrkva, of Dearborn, carries a bag of containers of baby formula for his grandchildren on Friday, May 27, 2022 for his. Mrkva was the first person in line at 7 a.m. Friday for the drive-thru event held by the city of Dearborn.

Abazeed emphasized the event was meant to alleviate some of the shortage's immediate effects and was not a permanent solution.

"We realize that after today, people will still suffer from shortages," Abazeed said. "But this is an attempt to do what we can today, and then we'll get back to the drawing board afterwards, try to help even more."

Dearborn resident Noora Beny-Arid said the shortage has been difficult to manage, as her three-month-old daughter had only recently become content with milk. She emphasized how helpful the event was.

"Yesterday I went to Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, and I went to every Kroger, every Meijer, every Walmart — nothing," Beny-Arid said. "It's definitely making a huge difference, those five cans will get us through a whole month."

Dearborn Department of Public Health fellow Isabelle Clark, of Dearborn, gives baby formula to a motorist during a drive-thru event on Friday, May 27, 2022, in Dearborn designed to help alleviate the national formula shortage.

hmackay@detroitnews.com