Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Powdered Gold

No, I'm not talking about those dumb Cash4Gold commercials that I have memorized because they get played more than your momma's Gaither records...

I'm talking about baby formula.

Really, why is it so expensive? It is milk. Powdered. Although if you read the label, the ingredients look like a chemistry lab blew up. The cheapest can I can find for a small can is about $10, and it's regulated so you know it's pretty much the same stuff whether you get the cheap stuff or the expensive stuff. I'm sure the answer lies somewhere in how our capitalistic economy works, but it somehow seems wrong to profit so much off of a necessity, even though it happens with a lot of products I guess. Maybe I'm naive.

And why is it getting harder to buy? At least in our area, Wal-mart has pulled formula from the shelves and it is now a behind the counter item. When I asked...I suspected I knew why...but it still kind of jarred me. Because it was getting stolen. A lot.

My first thought was...well...what about WIC? And after doing a little research, I found MY family might qualify for WIC. I don't know whether that's a good or bad thing. It seems fairly easy to qualify. Why would someone steal formula instead?

The only things I can come up with are that:
A. There must be information that they ask for that people don't want to give. The risk of stealing is worth not disclosing this information.
B. You can be sanctioned(stop receiving services, usually because of trouble with the law) or something similar like with the TANF program (food stamps).
C. It's easier to steal the formula than follow the system like you're supposed to.
D. There are some people out there who are very numb to sin.
E. WIC is maxed out and turning people away.
F. A combination of all of the above.

Whatever the reason, it is one of the only things in this floundering economy that has effected me personally so far. I was out of formula today and I stopped at the discount store. They don't even carry formula. Wal-mart means asking for it specifically. The locally owned grocery store (most expensive in town) still has it on the shelf.

I am thankful that I can feed my baby when he's hungry, WIC or no WIC. Would I steal food for my children if I couldn't find another way to feed them? I really don't know. How many babies in my own town will be hungry tonight? That makes me overwhelmingly sad. I hate bringing up stuff like this when there's no solution in sight. But if nothing else, it makes me see just how broken our world is. The people are broken. The system is broken. The churches are broken. Our country is in need of Jesus. And one of the ways to show Jesus to someone might be in the form of providing a simple can of formula.

Deut. 15:10-11
"Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land."

Update: Ok, looks like I was a little off on my reasoning. Probably why I'm not a criminal... I thought stealing formula meant you wanted or needed formula. Silly me. I guess you might just want money! I guess that goes under reason D. Check this article out. Hopefully this means less hungry babies (Whew, I was about to start buying extra cans to give away, and I still plan to find out if this IS a problem), but it sure doesn't look like the world is any less broken...


katdish said...

Honestly, between diapers and formula, I don't know how many people swing it. Rachel is 7-1/2, but I still remember how expensive formula was. Plus, formula is not like diapers, you can't switch around when there's a sale. At least I couldn't, because it would upset my kid's stomachs if I did that. I know here in a border state, they have a real problem with people stealing formula and reselling it across the border. How old is Baby Jay? I started giving my kids regular milk at 12 months.

wv: expecan - a former pecan or how Sherri spells "expecting"

Christianne said...

Yep -- people use it when making meth. Don't ask how I know that without having to Google it. Must be one of those useless pieces of information you pick up while watching local TV news in the "meth capital of the world" for five years in the late 90s. :-)

Watch a little Kevin Orpurt tonight for me, will you? Ah, memories...

sherri said...

meth from formaula?

WIll wonders never cease?

Helen said...

I just hope that now that they are locking it up to keep it from being stolen, the lessening of theft will equal lessening in price. Yeah. I know. I'm cute when I am asleep and dreaming.