See photos of military plane delivering 78,000 pounds of baby formula from Europe to Indiana

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A  C-17 military plane with 78,000 pounds of formula for infants and toddlers with cow milk allergies arrived Sunday to relieve struggling caretakers amid a national shortage.

In February, several brands of infant formula manufactured at an Abbott facility in Sturgis, Michigan, were recalled after four infants became sick with bacterial infections. . 

As part of President Joe Biden’s Operation Fly Formula initiative, the first shipment of European formula arrived from Germany at Indianapolis International Airport. Biden triggered the Defense Production Act, giving the plant priority for necessary supplies to restock shelves. 

FedEx trucks delivered 132 pallets of formula, enough to feed 9,000 babies and 18,000 toddlers for a week, reports The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network., to a Nestle distribution plant in nearby Plainfield. 

The formula will go to hospitals and health clinics around the country.

More: How to find baby formula alternatives amid shortage — and why you shouldn’t make your own

The White House’s announcement on May 18 expedited the shipping process from Europe, which typically would take about two weeks to arrive after an order is placed, said U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as the shipment was unloaded.

“The reason we are doing this is obviously the critical need that is out there,” Vilsack said. “We’re going to get this here in a matter of days, and a matter of days means a lot to the moms and dads who are worried.”

A broader range of baby formula from Europe is expected to arrive in the Washington, D.C. area, in the coming days, Vilsack said.

The Food and Drug Administration and Abbott reached a deal last week to reopen the plant, although it could take up to two weeks to open and an additional six to eight for shelves to be restocked, Abbott Nutrition officials said.

Camille Fine is a trending visual producer on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She loves to make pizza, watch standup comedy, photograph her friends and spoil two loving cats.