PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A military plane carrying enough specialty infant formula for more than half a million baby bottles arrived Sunday in Indianapolis, the first of several flights expected from Europe aimed at relieving a shortage that has sent parents scrambling to find enough to feed their children.
President Joe Biden authorized the use of Air Force planes for the effort, dubbed "Operation Fly Formula," because no commercial flights were available.
The formula weighed 78,000 pounds, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden flew from South Korea to Japan.
The help can't come fast enough for families who are struggling to feed their babies.
SEE ALSO: More than 75,000 pounds of baby formula lands in US amid shortage
"It does blow my mind. I've been doing this for 25 years and we've never come across anything like this before. And people are in a panic," said Colette Acker, the executive director of the Breastfeeding Resource Center.
With baby formula flying off the shelves, many parents are scrambling to try and feed their children, like Margarita Slavina.
"She still wants her bottle before she goes to bed, so I can't do anything about it," said Slavina of Northeast Philadelphia.
Data company Nielsen IQ reports Pennsylvania is among the 10 hardest hits states by this shortage. The "on shelf availability" is at 80.4%. Normal rates should be above 90%.
Acker said there is help out there for moms who have been subsidizing with formula.
"If you're breastfeeding and you're partially breastfeeding and struggling to go see a lactation consultant, we'll help you boost production," Acker said.
The FDA says it will be weeks before the supply gets back to normal.
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In the meantime, a doctor with Nemours Children's Hospital says to be careful with what you put in your baby's body and be sensitive to those relying on formula.
"Don't do things that are diluted down with water, those can make babies very sick," Dr. James Franciosi, the chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at Nemours Children's Hospital.
"We just have to be compassionate that breast milk is not always in everyone's breastfeeding journey."
Franciosi also advised that now could be a good time to see if your baby can handle another formula brand.
"Don't panic with everything. There are alternatives with various baby formulas. So even though babies have been tolerating certain food, you know in formula, sometimes they can switch over and be okay," Franciosi said.
It's important to try not to buy in bulk.
"Try not to be hoarding formula. I know sometimes a crisis doesn't always bring out the best in everyone. And so we've definitely seen now that there's inflation or prices people are trying to obtain all the formula for themselves," Franciosi said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.