Restaurant owner takes advantage of baby formula stockpile and gives it away for free

A Texas restaurant owner and father of three has come to the rescue of hundreds of parents struggling to find infant formula in the midst of a national shortage of the product.

Determined to make a difference, Benji Arslanovski, owner of “Our Place” in Mansfield, Texas, recently contacted US Foods, his restaurant’s supplier, which also supplies formula to hospitals and health care providers.

“I thought, maybe no one had looked at that avenue, and they hadn’t,” he told CBS MoneyWatch.

Last week, Arslanovski located 56 boxes of Gerber baby formula in stock at US Foods. After checking with the company to make sure other retailers and healthcare facilities weren’t requesting the supply, he bought it all and began giving it away to parents in need.

“I cleared it with US Foods and made sure they didn’t need it — I didn’t want to put a health care facility through it. Every day I bought a little more and eventually I bought it all. The first six cases went very quickly,” he said. .

Benji Arslanovski, a restaurant owner in Mansfield, Texas, said “no baby should go without” after donating hundreds of cans of baby formula to parents and caregivers struggling to find the products amid a national shortage.

Courtesy of Benji Arslanovski

Many parents across the country have been forced to search grocery stores only to find empty shelves after the largest baby formula manufacturing plant in the US closed in February over contamination concerns. Formula maker Abbott Nutrition also recalled several batches of its most popular formula brands. supplies baby formula subsequently became scarce.

Since then, Abbott has hit a agreement with the white house that will allow it to reopen the plant within two weeks, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Still, it could be months from when production restarts until enough formula hits store shelves to meet families’ needs.

“No Baby Should Go Without”

Arslanovski announced that he had formula available on his restaurant’s Facebook page. The response was immediate.

“I said you don’t need to eat here or be a customer, if you need anything come and get it because no baby should be without it.”

Mom talks about the shortage of baby formula


Arslanovski said he initially planned to charge parents and caregivers what he had paid for the formula, but ultimately decided to donate it.

“Originally I was going to charge the cost, but when the moms were so happy to find some formula, I couldn’t charge them,” she said.

Within a week, Arslanovski had given away more than 300 cans of formula, or nearly $4,000 worth. He told CBS MoneyWatch that he plans to continue buying formula as long as his distributor can stock it.

“I’ll be doing this for as long as I can get it or until production catches up,” he said.

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