Swampscott mom creates online formula exchange amid national shortage

SWAMPSCOTT, Mass. — A Swampscott mother has created a website to connect families in need of baby formula with those who have it amid a national shortage.

Keiko Zoll, a communications professional with a skill for building websites, created Free Formula Exchange (freeformula.exchange).

Zoll told Boston 25 News she felt compelled to help families in need after listening to a podcast about the impact of the formula shortage on families.

Suddenly, she was hit with a wave of emotional, recalling bringing her preemie son, Judah, home from the hospital nine years ago and needing to feed him a special, expensive formula.

“I started sobbing just listening to these stories of mothers who were going to any lengths they could just to try and feed their babies,” Zoll said. “This is about children who just need to eat to survive. Feeding our babies is a human right.”

Zoll launched the website late Friday night, and by Monday afternoon, nearly 800 people across the country had requested formula through the site, with 80 to 90 having signed up to donate, she said.

“The site has taken off in a way that I was not expecting at all,” Zoll said. “I really thought it was just going to be a small, local thing, and clearly it’s branched out to something much, much greater, and really shows the intensity and severity of the need right now.”

The exchange works by allowing moms, dads and caregivers to fill out a form detailing their formula needs, medical issues and location. Potential donors are then able to view the database and connect with those in need to send or hand-deliver their unneeded or excess formula, free of charge.

“There are no paid transactions, because cost shouldn’t be a barrier to feeding your children,” Zoll said.

While Zoll hopes her site isn’t needed for long, she said it is heartwarming to witness parents stepping up to help others they don’t know feed their precious babies.

“When a mom sees another mother in need…they just step up,” Zoll said. “It’s like, without question, without even thinking, it’s, ‘Of course, I’ll help.’”

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