A Mansfield restaurant owner is doing what he can to help parents navigate the baby formula shortage in the U.S.
Benji Arslanovski, who runs Our Place Restaurant, had the thought to request formula from his restaurant supplier. He didn’t need the formula for his children. Instead, he wanted to give it away to his restaurant customers.
He initially bought six cases from U.S. Foods and spread the word on social media. He said the response was “absolutely tremendous.”
“Oh God, there were so many people who needed it, especially new moms who are struggling to produce milk,” Arslanofski said. “I have three boys so I can imagine what it’s like to be in that situation.”
Parents from across North Texas came to Our Place to get a can of formula and share their stories of trying to find it in stores.
One man told Arslanofski that his wife is in the hospital after giving birth to twins and hasn’t been able to make sufficient milk to feed them. He’s traveled across the Metroplex trying to find formula.
The response has been so strong that Arslanofski has received new shipments every day this week. Dallas Morning News reported he ordered 20 new boxes Monday. When those ran out, he posted that 16 new boxes would arrive Tuesday.
Tranda Franklin told the Dallas Morning News that she heard about the giveaway from a friend. When she called the restaurant Monday morning to see if they had any cans for her grandson, they told her the delivery vehicle had not yet arrived but took down her information and promised to call when it came.
“They called me to tell me the formula had come, and when I got there they had a can waiting for me,” Franklin said. “This is such a blessing.”
There are those on social media that question Arslanofski’s altruism. Several commenters on Facebook have questioned how he can get formula during the national shortage.
Randy Gee asked, “So there is supply that is being diverted somewhere instead of the stores where regular Americans can buy it. Hmmm.”
Chris Lewis added, “This is so wrong of them to do. A [restaurant] doesn’t need formula and shouldn’t be allowed to even order it!”
Refrigerated and Frozen Foods Magazine profiled U.S. Foods in 2019 and listed “retail locations” as customers of the distributor.
Arslanovski ran the healthcare division at U.S. Foods for 15 years before opening Our Place. His experience gave him the idea to reach out.
“I’ll keep doing this as long as people need it and as long as U.S. Foods has formula in stock,” Arslanovski said. “I’m just trying to give back to the community that has been so good to me.”