Skip to content

🍼 Where to find, give baby formula in Chicago

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_

🍼 Baby Formula Shortage

Abbott Laboratories and the Food and Drug Administration reached an agreement this week for the north suburban–based company to reopen a key baby formula plant in the Midwest.

The Michigan plant could restart production in two weeks, but formula might not hit the shelves for months, prolonging the shortage.

Empty shelves at a grocery store lined with a few baby formula products.
Baby formula sold at Chicago store amid growing shortage Jan. 13, 2022. (Scott Olson / Getty)

So how did one of the biggest suppliers of baby formula in the country get here? 

The plant was shut down in February after multiple cases of bacterial contamination — two infants died — and a whistleblower’s list of concerns over food safety at the facility. 

The shortage has been hard for families — including in Chicago. 

Retail-tracking firm Datasembly found about 34% of baby formula was out of stock at local stores the first week of May, the Tribune reported. 

What are officials doing about it? 

The Biden administration and FDA said they’d increase formula imports from overseas and reexamine the review process for foreign manufacturers. 

Gov. JB Pritzker said Illinois retailers are encouraged to reserve formulas for low-income families enrolled in WIC, federal food assistance aimed at women and children. 

Where can families find baby formula in the meantime? 

Pharmacies and grocery stores have put purchase limits on baby formula: A spokesperson for Deerfield-based Walgreens told City Cast that customers are capped to three products per transaction.

New local and national mutual aid networks are connecting parents who most need formula with those who can donate: the Chicagoland Baby Formula Collection Project, Share Our Space, and the Free Formula Exchange.

Have more questions? Call this state helpline, 800-843-6154.

☀️ Books for the Summer
“When We Fell Apart,” “This Thing Between Us,” and “True Biz” book covers
“When We Fell Apart,” “This Thing Between Us,” and “True Biz” book covers. (Penguin Random House / MacMillan)

“Nerdette” host Greta Johnsen and City Cast’s Jacoby Cochran tell us about the books they’re most looking forward to reading this summer — including beach reads like “The Lioness” and page-turners like “When We Fell Apart.”

👉 Pssst, know a children’s book about Chicago or from a local author? My cousin is asking for books for her new baby, and I could use some help. Reply, and let me know!

Sponsored by Optimum Joy:
Better Mental Health is for Everyone
Optimum Joy logo

Not everyone needs counseling, but everyone can benefit from it. Optimum Joy’s team of mental health professionals are ready to support you through professional stress, major life changes, multicultural relationships, family complexities, feeling disconnected, or whatever you are going through. Our therapists offer a range of mental health services to help you carry insight and growth into every area of your life. Discover what optimum joy looks like for you. Learn about our therapists and get started at

📰 Newsfeed

Cook County has a new $42 million guaranteed income pilot: 3,250 residents will get $500 monthly payments over two years, county Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. Applications open in the fall. [The Triibe]

CPS to end automatic military program enrollment? The district said it would make changes after an investigation found students at predominantly Black and Latinx schools were automatically enrolled in “voluntary” JROTC programs, which were hard to leave. [Chalkbeat]

Hooray for fair pay! The Chicago-based United States Soccer Federation agreed Wednesday to equal pay for its men and women teams. [Crain’s]

School lunch like you’ve never seen before. Phillips Academy students took photos of lunches at their Bronzeville school, making them look Insta-worthy with bright colors and high resolution. [Sun-Times]

🎪  The Greatest Show Returns
Two elephants exit a train that reads "Ringling Bros. and Barnum." Part of the city skyline is in the background.
Elephants from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus depart their train Nov. 18, 2002 in Chicago. (Tim Boyle / Getty)

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is returning next year. But do you know the infamous circus’ Chicago roots?

In the late 19th century, the Ringling Bros. was prominent in the Midwest and Barnum & Bailey had a stronghold in New England. They decided to split up the market: Barnum & Bailey’s headquarters was in New York and the Ringling Bros. made Chicago homebase, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society

The Ringling Bros. started buying other circuses at the turn of the century — including Barnum & Bailey’s. They combined the two circuses during World War I as audience size dwindled. 

After 146 years and more declining interest, the circus closed its doors in 2017. The show’s return will be marked by new formats and no animals. 

🎟️ Stay in the loop for when tickets go on sale.

Subscribe to our newsletter! Fresh in your inbox every weekday at 6 a.m.