New university lab explores cause of infant formula shortage

December 4, 2023
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Photo of Dr. Lesley Frank / Photo de Lesley Frank
Source: webphotographeer

For much of 2022 and into 2023, North American families—especially those in low-income brackets—were struggling to feed their infants due to a formula shortage. The shortage began with COVID-19 supply chain issues but was worsened by market disruptions after a four-month closure of an infant formula manufacturing facility, import restrictions and market concentration. 

The infant formula market has since stabilized, but the crisis revealed serious vulnerabilities in our food systems. Researchers like Acadia University’s Dr. Lesley Frank are dedicated to understanding how and why this happened, to ensure it never happens again. 

The Fed Family Lab 

The newly established Fed Family Lab led by Dr. Frank takes a collaborative approach on research for food and health justice, aiming to advance the study of family and childhood food insecurity. With a grant of over $200,000 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Dr. Frank, the Tier II Canada Research Chair in Food, Health and Social Justice (SSHRC), will conduct cutting-edge research with collaborators at Saint Mary’s University (Nova Scotia) and the University of Illinois to find the root cause of the recent formula shortage. Ultimately, Dr. Frank and her colleagues want to protect future caregivers and families from another crisis. 

Work already underway 

The SSHRC grant strengthens Dr. Frank’s work and gives her the resources to collaborate with experts across disciplines. The knowledge-sharing between Acadia’s Fed Family Lab and the University of Illinois’ Food Equity and Dignity Lab will inform public policy and impact support systems to reduce food insecurity overall. 

Read Acadia University’s press release.

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Lisa Wallace
Assistant Director, Communications
Universities Canada
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Tagged:  Research and innovation, Strong and healthy communities

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