‘Smacks of desperation’: Donated baby formula being resold online

Harvest Manitoba is sounding the alarm over concerns baby formula the non-profit donated to those in need is being resold online.

Over the weekend, staff came across Facebook posts advertising formula up for grabs for $40 – despite the boxes marked with “not for resale – Harvest Manitoba.”

The organization says this type of behaviour could be keeping families from accessing formula they need through its First Steps program.

“We help about 700 infants with the baby formula program. They get two boxes of baby formula. They’ll get some baby food and some baby pouches, some diapers – just to help them make ends meet so they don’t have to purchase the items themselves,” Harvest Manitoba’s director of food and fundraising Colleen McVarish told CTV News Winnipeg in an interview Monday.

To register for the program, people with babies must provide a medical number or the baby’s bracelet from the hospital where they were born.

This is the second time in the past year Harvest Manitoba has discovered donated formula up for sale online.

“It just says how hard things are out there, that people are actually having to choose to sell baby formula, and it’s become a commodity in our province,” said Kate Kehler, executive director of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

Furthermore, she says this is a sign of an already pressing issue in our province — child poverty.

According to Campaign 2000, a report published yearly, Manitoba has a child poverty rate of 27.2 per cent when it comes to children under six, which is 11 per cent higher than the national average.

Parents struggling to make ends meet are being forced to make tough choices, Kehler said.

“They have enough to tide themselves over until or tide their child over until they are expecting another a bit of money – then that’s what they’re doing in order to get by,” she said.

That could mean selling leftover formula to pay rent or bills – a move she says smacks of desperation.

McVarish says Harvest Manitoba is here to help anyone in that situation.

“If you’re selling this product online and you need assistance, call our food lines and we can help you out.”

Meantime, the organization is asking anyone who comes across these posts online to get in touch with them.

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