Texas restaurant owner hands out free baby formula to families in need

MANSFIELD, Texas — As parents across the country struggle to find baby formula to feed their children, a restaurant owner in Texas is doing his best to help as many as he can.

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Benji Arslanovski owns “Our Place,” a restaurant in Mansfield, Texas, and decided to try to get access to baby formula by going through his restaurant’s supplier, US Foods, which also supplies formula to hospitals and doctors’ offices, CBS News reported.

“The moms, the dads not knowing — are they going to be able to feed their babies? And it makes me sad to think — because my kids all eat solid foods now — but man, not knowing if they can eat would be scary,” he told The Washington Post.

>> Baby formula shortage: Senate passes bill to improve access

Arslanovski started by ordering six cases to distribute last Saturday, and the formula was gone in less than a day, he told USA Today. Our Place’s Facebook page has been updating families on when cans are available. So far the restaurant has distributed 56 cases of Gerber’s Gentle Pro infant formula, which amounts to 224 cans, USA Today reported.

Arslanovski had initially planned to sell the formula at cost, but then decided to give it away for free, after “watching the moms and dads who needed it so bad. Some moms were crying (because they) weren’t able to get it to hold them over,” he told USA Today. “The community has been great to me during COVID. Business would stop by, they would tip servers, even though we weren’t open for dining. …Every day was a blessing. So this is my way of returning the favor of how they took care of me.”

>> Baby formula shortage: What parents need to know

The distributor, US Foods, does sell to hospitals and doctor’s offices, but Arslanovski told CBS News that he checked to make sure he wasn’t taking resources from any facility that would otherwise need it.

In total, Arslanovski told The Washington Post that he had spent about $3,700 on the formula, but said he has no plans to stop until parents are able to find what they need elsewhere.

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