Thank you for contacting me about the distribution of formula milk at foodbanks.
I recognise that breastfeeding is a personal choice for each woman to make and that not all mothers are able to or choose to breastfeed. For those who do choose not to breastfeed, the Government supports the safe use of infant formula, and I know that regulations are in place to ensure that all types of infant formula meet the nutritional needs of babies.
I understand from my colleagues that since foodbanks are independent charitable organisations, Government Ministers do not have any role in deciding how they are run. As such, any decisions about whether to accept formula milk would be a matter for the foodbank organisers.
I do understand, however, that a major motivation behind foodbanks not accepting donations of formula milk can be the inconsistency of donations and that some brands may not be suitable for the needs of the baby.
Families who are using foodbanks may be eligible for vouchers through the Healthy Start scheme, which can be spent on formula milk. I am aware that these payments are set to increase from £3.10 to £4.25 a week from next April, aimed at boosting the long-term health of children. If you have concerns, you should contact your midwife or health visitor as soon as possible to learn more about options for accessing formula milk for your baby.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me
Sally-Ann Hart MP