Located at 1454 N. State St. in a one-story brick building, Life Choices Care Center features a food pantry. Shelves line the walls, containing different items that pregnant women or women with children may need, including diapers, baby shower baskets and, despite the shortage, formula milk.
After completing the admission paperwork, people can come to the center twice a month and get two boxes of baby formula per family for free. For specialty formulas or formulas in short supply, such as Nutramigen and Neosure, families are limited to one box.
This is open to people outside of Hancock County, although some people may be redirected to closer options.
Reba Kindrick, mother of a two-month-old and two older children, struggled to find a special formula for her child. After driving to Franklin – an hour away – to find formula and with a child at home struggling to gain weight, she thought, “What am I going to do?”
“You don’t want your child ending up in the hospital because he’s not gaining the weight he needs,” Kindrick said.
When she found out about the formula pantry in her church, she said she felt like other people needed it more than she did and “didn’t want to take it from anyone.” ‘one who needed it more than [she] did.” However, after using the resource, she insisted on Life Choices Care Center’s “closed door policy” and that you can tell them anything.
“They’re there for anyone who needs help,” Kindrick said. “It doesn’t matter your situation or whatever.”
Darrian Stanger, a mother of three with two nine-month-old babies, said she suffered from anxiety during the shortage.
“All the stores were really out of any type of formula,” she said. “So I was kind of freaking out about what I was going to do and how I was going to take care of the boys.”
Her two nine-month-olds have extremely sensitive systems and use Puramino and before using the pantry she had two cans, which lasted her about two to three days each, she said. Stanger also used the pantry for other offerings, like clothes, diapers, wipes, etc., which helped when her kids grew up and she couldn’t afford to buy more. things at the time.
Despite an increase in the number of people entering, Linda Vodney, director of the center, and Jillian Jarrett, general manager, thought there would be more people.
“We were like, ‘People can’t find us,'” Vodney said. “We have a formula, we can help you. People can’t find us.
Vodney posted a social media post about the center’s pantry with formula “exploding,” she said. The following working day, the center distributed and pledged around 30 boxes of formula – a change from their usual number before the post.
The center was awarded a 2020 formula grant from the Hancock County Community Foundation. The grant, along with donations from the community, enabled the center to obtain formula for its pantry.
“This community is extremely generous, and so we are blessed by the generosity of others,” Jarrett said.
The pantry has been at the center since its beginnings in 1999, when local pastors joined forces to provide assistance to pregnant women, women with children, those in pregnancy crisis and those in need of assistance. for pregnancy decisions. Jarrett said the center offers “life-affirming” options and services include pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, pregnancy counseling, material assistance, post-abortion support, integrity education sex, adoption referrals and other services, which are free and confidential, according to the center’s website.
After speaking with women who come in for formula, one thing the women keep saying is how “discouraging” the shortage is, Jarrett said.
“As a mom or as a dad or whatever, there’s already a lot going on that you deal with as a parent,” she said. “Not being able to feed your child is not really something we thought we would have to deal with.”
She said people are very happy to receive the resource and hopes more people will continue to come.
The center is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.