During the winter of 1983 the local news media featured several stories on the problem of
infant mortality in Chicago and on the effects of malnutrition on the city’s infants. At that
time, for a variety of social, economic, and political reasons, federal funding for the WIC
(Women, Infants and Children) Program had been curtailed, causing large numbers of
formula-dependent babies to become dangerously undernourished.
In response to the publicity a group of women, who are friends and fellow-graduates of The
Immaculata High School in Chicago became interested. After meeting with professionals in
the field of child health they were convinced that the problem was serious and that some
help from volunteers might be useful and appropriate. They formed INFANT (Infants
Need to Find Adequate Nourishment Today). INFANT was incorporated as an Illinois
charity in April 1983 and has 501(c)(3) tax status.
INFANT, Inc. solicits donations for the purchase of baby formula at the lowest available
cost and delivers it promptly to food pantries, shelters and other social service agencies.
The formula is distributed at the discretion of their directors, who are knowledgeable in
distribution policies are non-sectarian. INFANT, Inc. delivers to approximately 55 agencies
throughout the city and in some suburbs for their emergency formula needs.
Infant formula, though vital to the proper nourishment of non-breast-fed babies, is seldom
donated to food drives and is not regularly available at many food pantries. Establishing a
program to provide formula for needy infants is time consuming and often takes several
weeks. Some babies are under supplied by WIC or require special formulas that are difficult
to obtain. INFANT, Inc. can respond to this need in a timely fashion.
INFANT, Inc. also distributes layettes for newborn babies to social service agencies that
work with young mothers, including homeless shelters or residents for expectant mothers.
The social worker will call us when there is a mother in need, and we deliver the basket close
to the baby’s birth. Each layette consists of baby outfits, onsies, receiving blankets,
sweater, a blanket, sleepers, bibs, diapers and a toy. When possible, we try to include
handmade items, such as blankets and/or sweaters and caps.
Volunteers do all the purchasing and delivering of formula and layettes. Because we solicit
only by direct mail and do not use professional fundraisers, our total operating and
administration costs are minimal – less than 2% of our expenses. Our funding at present
comes from foundation and church grants (about 30%) and from individuals (about 70%).
We are told that INFANT, Inc. is unique in the Chicago area and has been helpful in
relieving serious malnutrition. As long as the need exists for this voluntary, highly
personalized service, we will do our best to meet that need.