Wolf admin touts $1.75M grant to Berks Co. baby formula maker | Thursday Morning Coffee

The money will allow ByHeart to complete a canning line and dry blend area at its new facility in Reading

June 2, 2022 7:08 am
Young Asian mother feeding baby girl with bottle on sofa. Feeding expressing milk.

(Getty Images)

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Gov. Tom Wolf, joined by First Lady Frances Wolf, traveled to Reading on Wednesday, where the Democratic administration highlighted its efforts to help ease the ongoing nationwide baby formula shortage.

A $1.75 million state grant awarded to ByHeart will allow the company to complete a canning line and dry blend area at its new facility in Reading, the administration said in a statement.

The money, awarded through the state’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, will underwrite the last supply chain improvements to make ByHeart the fifth infant formula maker in the country, and the first FDA-registered company to go to market in more than 15 years, the administration said.

The state grant money will also support the creation of 50 new jobs, the administration said.

In a statement, Wolf said the state’s investment will help diversify a market sector “dominated by just a few manufacturers,” which has fueled the shortage.

In that same statement, ByHeart’s co-founder and president, Mia Funt, thanked the state for its support.

“When we founded ByHeart, we made a commitment to own and oversee our supply chain – to take a path no new entrant has in decades and acquire manufacturing, directly source all of our ingredients, conduct the largest clinical trial from a new brand in over 25 years. That decision was motivated by quality and innovation,” Funt said.

“We knew we had to do the hard work to deliver the most wholesome and nutritious alternative to breast milk – with cleanest ingredients – so parents could feel confident about how they feed,” Funt continued. “What we didn’t know at the time was how valuable this approach would become in having levers in our control to show up for parents in this shortage crisis, and we appreciate all support and investment from the Commonwealth towards ByHeart’s continuing efforts to fortify infant nutrition’s critical infrastructure.”

Rear view of young Asian mother with a shopping cart grocery shopping for baby products in a supermarket. She is standing in front of the baby product aisle and have no idea which product to choose from
(Getty Images)

Isabella Torres, a Reading area resident, and the mother of a three-month-old, said she and other mothers “have been desperate to find formula — crossing state lines, posting on social media — to feed our children.”

And while Torres said she’s still worried, “I am also grateful and hopeful,” because of the state’s support for the company.

The shortage has “taken a toll on parents in the commonwealth and the entire country. Pennsylvania’s rich food production industries place us in a position to help ease the burden people are feeling and increase the supply of a product that is crucial to the health and wellbeing of babies,” state Sen. Judy Schwank, D-Berks, who represents Reading, said in a statement.

Schwank added that “ByHeart is a company that saw all of the positives the commonwealth had to offer and made a big investment here in Pennsylvania that will benefit our economy while helping to ease the shortage nationwide.”

President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) following the Senate vote to pass the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, Aug. 10, 2021, in the Oval Office Dining Room of the White House. (Adam Schultz/Official White House Photo)

The Wolf administration’s announcement came the same day that President Joe Biden was to meet with formula-makers, as the White House and the industry continued efforts to ease a shortage that’s put stress on millions of American families.

Ahead of that meeting, the White House announced new shipments of baby formula were bound for the United States from Europe, the New York Times reported.

In a statement, the White House said it was airlifting enough Kendamil formula to make about 4 million bottles to locations across the country over the next three weeks, the Times reported. United Airlines had agreed to transport the formula for free, the Times reported.

“This first shipment, which includes Kendamil Classic and Kendamil Organic formula, will be available at Target stores across the country in the coming weeks,” the White House said in its statement, according to the Times.

A sheep takes a break from munching on vegetation at the Nittany 1 solar array in Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy of Lightsource BP)
A sheep takes a break from munching on vegetation at the Nittany 1 solar array in Pennsylvania. (Photo courtesy of Lightsource BP)

Our Stuff.
In a special report, our friends at Bay Journal News Service explain how ‘solar grazing’ has blunted the concerns of those rattled by the conversion of farmland to energy production.

The U.S. House Democrat in charge of keeping the chamber blue in November’s midterm elections said Republicans running in suburban swing districts are trying to “hide” their views on abortion and gun legislation from voters, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt reports.

A group of business chambers, business groups and diverse businesses in Philadelphia, are calling on Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council to make substantial wage and business cuts in fiscal year 2023, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

On our Commentary Page this morning: More student and faculty diversity on campus leads to lower racial gaps in graduation rates, a University of Iowa expert writes.

(Photo via Getty Images/Colorado Newsline.)

Four people were killed at a medical building in Tulsa, Okla., on Wednesday. The shooter also died, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Associated Press reports (via the Tribune-Review).

A suspected gunman was taken into custody on Wednesday after an incident at a Walmart in Luzerne County, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court could give Pennsylvania municipalities the greenlight to craft their own gun lawsSpotlight PA reports (via WESA-FM).

The deadline is June 7, but some counties already have finished their recounts in Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Senate contest, the Inquirer reports.

And the co-author of a report on recounts says GOP Senate hopeful David McCormick faces an uphill fight as he tries to overtake rival Mehmet OzPennLive reports.

Speaking of recounts, 29 more petitions have been submitted in a recount push in Lancaster County’s 36th Senate DistrictLancasterOnline reports.

And PoliticsPa explains what election workers do at the polls.

Pittsburgh will launch a needle exchange program as city officials try to prevent overdoses, the Post-Gazette reports.

Gov. Tom Wolf is sticking by his push for $2,000 direct payments to Pennsylvanians. Republicans are dismissing it as a publicity stunt, the Morning Call reports.

June is Pride Month, and Upper Darby’s Pride Festival is back for its second yearWHYY-FM reports.

GoErie delves into how Erie’s child care centers are spending $11.3 million in ARPA funds (subscriber-only).

Many American hospitals aren’t in full compliance with price transparency rulesRoll Call reports.

Here’s your #Pennsylvania Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On.
9 a.m., 11 a.m., 523 Irvis: Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing

What Goes On (Nakedly Political Edition)
10 a.m.: Event for Rep. Joe Ciresi
6 p.m.: Reception for Rep. Tracey Pennycuick
Hit both events, and give at the max, and you’re out an utterly unnecessary $10,000 today.

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Adams County for a pair of events today. At 10 a.m., he’ll celebrate the state’s history during an event at Gettysburg National Military Park. At 11 a.m., he’ll tour some construction at the Adams County Historical Society.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s one from Band of Horses to start the penultimate day of the working week. It’s ‘Light.’

Thursday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
The New York Rangers extinguished the Tampa Bay Lightningwinning 6-2 at MSG in Game 1 of the NHL’ s Eastern Conference final.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.