A nationwide formula shortage has left millions of babies across the U.S. without access to their main form of sustenance. (Most formula-fed babies depend on formula until they’re at least a year old and their digestive systems are ready to switch to solid foods.) Supply-chain issues caused partly by the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the domestic supply of formula since last year, but in February, Abbott Nutrition, the nation’s largest baby formula manufacturer, recalled several of its major formula brands and shut down a Michigan factory associated with tainted goods.
With just three big companies controlling the formula market in the U.S., when one falters, supply suffers across the board. The U.S. is working to boost formula imports, but the problem is real; during the first week of May, 43% of baby-formula supplies were out of stock across the U.S., with desperate parents turning to sellers on Amazon and other routes to feed their children. Retailers CVS, Walgreens, and Target are currently limiting buyers to three or four formula containers per purchase, and the FDA is working with Abbott to restore the safe function of its closed Michigan plant. Abbott said this week that, pending FDA approval, it could restart manufacturing at its plant within two weeks, with another six to eight weeks before new supplies of formula hit shelves.
A New Benefit – Abortion Travel
Starbucks recently announced that it would reimburse travel expenses for employees who need abortions and cannot get them within 100 miles of their homes, joining the small group of companies that have moved to protect employee abortion access as the Supreme Court appears likely to soon overturn Roe v. Wade. For those outside of the US, Roe v. Wade is perhaps the most famous Supreme Court case in history because of its effect: it established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion throughout the United States almost 50 years ago. But earlier this month, Politico obtained a leaked draft opinion showing that the Supreme Court is planning on striking down the 1973 ruling, which means that many states will immediately ban abortion.
Starbucks is among a handful of companies, including Yelp, Citigroup and Tesla, that have announced plans to cover transportation costs for employees in need of abortions. Most companies and business leaders, though, have stayed quiet since the Supreme Court’s draft opinion was leaked. According to findings from Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights, the average distance to an abortion provider would increase by 97 miles, to 122 miles from 25 miles, if Roe is overturned.
Starbucks has 240,000 employees and nearly 9,000 company-operated stores in the United States. The company declined to share how many employees it had in Texas and other states that will ban abortions quickly if the Supreme Court overturns Roe.
Starbucks said its decision to cover travel costs for employees to get abortions added to its already expansive health care benefits, which include insurance coverage for gender-affirming care and costs associated with surrogacy, adoption, and fertility treatments. The company said on Monday that it would also begin to cover travel expenses for gender-affirming care for employees who cannot get it near their homes, as lawmakers introduce anti-trans legislation across the country.