NEW YORK - The baby formula shortage is only getting more difficult for parents like Ana Crespo to find baby formula.
"I feel very helpless," she said. "BJ's, Costco, nowhere."
Empty shelves in stores and out-of-stock notifications online only add to the growing frustration parents with children under 12 months are feeling as the baby formula shortage continues to worsen.
The fear of running out of formula has taken an emotional toll on parent Christen DiPasquale and a physical toll on her 2-yea-old son Z.J.
"Being a single mom and going through this hasn't been easy," she said. "It's not the same formula every single time. The constipation I've been dealing with him has been heartbreaking."
In an effort to address the nationwide shortage, Suffolk County officials are making their offices drop-off locations for formula donations.
"Island Harvest will be regularly picking them up and getting the products to families," Island Harvest Food Bank CEO Randi Shubin Dresner said.
There's also a push to connect parents in need on Facebook. In just a matter of days, the group Formula Fairies has grown to over 700 members.
"People are donating, people are swapping, taking pictures of shelves in stores that they're in," group founder Kristin McDonough said.
Efforts are also underway in Nassau County to make it easier to report and investigate cases of formula price gouging in stores. And even though it's difficult, health officials say it is important for parents to continue making smart choices to avoid nutritional imbalances. That means steering clear of making your own formula and making sure you don't water down what you have.
The Abbott baby formula plant is expected to reopen in the coming weeks. Many are hoping the shelves will be stocked soon after.