‘We can’t find it anywhere’: StarMed Healthcare gives away more baby formula

CHARLOTTE — StarMed Healthcare gave out more of its baby formula on Thursday.

Families headed to the Central Avenue and Tuckaseegee Road locations where the healthcare provider handed out formula starting at 10 a.m.

The anxiety of becoming a new parent has spiked with the lack of formula on store shelves. It’s a fear mom Kentra Ledbetter says she knows all too well.

“It’s crazy, we can’t find it anywhere,” she said.

It’s why she was at StarMed’s second free formula giveaway, along with her 1-month-old daughter.

Over the last two years, StarMed shifted from COVID tester, to vaccine provider, and now, baby formula distributor. Thursday’s distribution was a team effort -- from directing traffic, to sorting the formula and color-coding bags to make the process easier.

But even StarMed is feeling the pinch from supply chain and recall issues. The amount of formula at hand Thursday was half of what it was just one week prior, with about 600 units available for families on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mom Ashleigh Caldwell says she got in line 2.5 hours early because she had given up on stores.

“We’ve been to Charlotte, Concord, Statesville,” Caldwell said. “Doctors’ offices don’t have any, online, social services, it’s just been really hard trying to find it.”

It’s a similar story for dad Kareem Owens and his six-week-old son. The giveaway bought him a little more time to figure out what he’ll do next.

“I have a few more days to get out and try to hustle to see if I can find some more, but it’s very scarce, it’s a process,” he said.

StarMed said it’s working on getting enough supplies to do another giveaway in the future. For now, these parents are just grateful for the opportunity.

StarMed gives away first round of baby formula to families in need

StarMed gave out a week’s supply of formula on May 17 for about 1,000 babies on a first-come, first-served basis at its clinics on Tuckaseegee Road and Central Avenue.

The FreeMore location on Tuckaseegee Road and the Eastland site on Central Avenue both opened at noon.

Channel 9′s Gina Esposito was at Central Avenue and said families had been lined up since 7 a.m. Chopper 9 Skyzoom also flew over the FreeMore location, where cars could be seen lining up.

No registration was needed and the formula was free.

Some of the parents Esposito spoke with said their babies were only a few days old. One father, who was there for his 4-day-old baby boy, said his wife’s milk didn’t come in, so the hospital gave them formula that will only last a few more days.

“Probably three more days worth. And the way he’s drinking, it would probably be gone before that,” said Paul Holland.

Families waited in line with a number, and when that number was called, they got a bag filled with a variety of formula products. StarMed said it secured the products from its medical suppliers.

Holland got formula at the east Charlotte location, but it wasn’t what he needed at first. The health care workers there were able to get him switched to the right kind before he left.

Parents said switching formula brands can irritate a child’s digestive system.

Leslie Hernandez, who was there for her 2-month-old twin boys, said she hoped their formula -- Gerber Good Start -- would be in her bag.

“I’m in a program with Care Ring. They told me about this here, so I can get milk for my kids so I can be prepared for anything,” she said.

Many parents and grandparents said they could not find their baby’s formula at any store, so they were grateful for the giveaway.

There were also pregnant women there who were due in a few weeks. They were worried they would not be able to feed their babies when they are born.

(WATCH PREVIOUS BELOW: StarMed gives away baby formula to families in need on Tuesday)

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