TOPEKA (KSNT) – Amid the national formula shortage, it’s not just babies being affected. For one Kansas family, it’s a race against time to secure food for their two-and-a-half year old.

27 News met with a local mother whose son has a unique condition. Paired with the formula shortage, her day to day is filled with worries that no parent should ever have – will my child be able to eat.

Meet Hunter Bates. Born 3 weeks before the pandemic shutdown, his life has been filled with challenges. He was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, or E-o-E for short, at just 10 months old.

“He is allergic to any dairy product, which means anything with milk or a dairy derivative, he is allergic to anything with wheat, or anything with soy,” said Hunter’s Mother Carolyn Paciorek. “Which means all traditional formula he cannot have.” 

His uncommon condition makes maintaining a proper diet a necessity. Hunter relies on formula to get the calories he needs to grow and develop.

“When the Abbot recall came out, all of his cans were affected,” Paciorek said. “All 17 cans of food I had for him, he doesn’t have.” 

The family attempted other formulas, to no avail. The one Hunter can tolerate is now sold out, even on the manufacturer’s website.

“You can’t just go to the store and buy it,” Paciorek said. “You can’t just try something else. He’s allergic to other things, to the point his throat will swell – it can kill him if I give him other ones.”  

It’s a tough situation for families of children with intense food sensitivities, and one Hunter has been impacted by directly. At the start of May, the family couldn’t find formula for 4 days. Currently, they have just enough formula to last until the end of May.

“The formula is what he needs,” Paciorek said. “If he doesn’t have it he doesn’t sleep. If he doesn’t sleep then he’s not eating. If he’s not eating and he’s not drinking this formula, he’s gonna drop below 7% which is already terrifying low. Then we’re gunna be looking at getting a G-tube, who really wants their two-and-a-half year old to be on a G-tube? What quality of life is that for your child?” 

Hunter’s case shows the shortage isn’t just hurting newborns, far from it. For those like him who have E-o-E, they depend on these products daily to simply exist.

With a ticking clock of just over one week to find more formula, the family hopes for quick action and active solutions. Not knowing whether their child will have food the next day is something the family never imagined they would have to worry about.