Georgia Democrats blast Kemp over ‘heartbreaking’ baby formula shortage

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Georgia Democrats are demanding that Gov. Brian Kemp outline steps he’s taking to address a crippling shortage of infant formula that has sent families scrambling to secure a supply.

A letter issued Monday by roughly four dozen Democratic legislators accused Kemp of trying to shift blame for the scarcity by describing the shortage as a national issue, even as Georgia has among the nation’s highest out-of-stock rates.

“This deflection ignores that our families are the worst hit of any state,” the letter read. “We urge you to take responsibility and take action. Unfortunately, to date you have delivered no speech, presented no plan, and held no press conferences about the baby formula crisis.”

The crisis was spurred by the closure of the nation’s largest formula plant in February due to safety issues. Officials hope to resume largescale production at the Michigan plant, though it’s been plagued by delays.

The supply issues have sharpened focus on a state policy that mandated the destruction of thousands of cans of infant formula. Kemp’s administration reversed that policy in May after hunger relief groups expressed outrage about the practice.

“It is unconscionable that your administration, amid the heartbreaking supply crisis, chose to destroy perfectly good baby formula,” read the letter.

It was signed by many of the state’s most prominent Democrats, including state Sen. Jen Jordan, the party’s nominee for attorney general, and state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the nominee for secretary of state.

Georgia adopted the policy in 2019 in response to guidance from the federal Department of Agriculture that advised against donating returned products, even if they were unopened and unexpired, for safety reasons.

State health officials say they’re now working to boost the formula supply and provide community food programs with extra stock. Georgia has also secured federal waivers to give needy families more options to buy the formula.

The letter from the Democrats, who each support Kemp challenger Stacey Abrams, demands more aggressive initiatives to stem the shortage.

“As legislators, but also as mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, and caregivers, we are calling on you to speak directly to the people of Georgia about this crisis,” it read, “and take immediate action to resolve it.”

Kemp’s campaign said Democrats shouldn’t blame others “for the disastrous failures of the Biden administration” and used the letter to blast his November opponent.

“Abrams took credit for Biden’s win and far-left agenda and she’s not going to be able to run from it this November,” said Kemp spokesman Tate Mitchell.