During COVID-19 Epidemic, Businessman Steps Up to Feed Autistic Boy with Food Aversions
Eight-year-old Lucas Buckley has nonverbal autism and has struggled with strong food aversions for most of his life, which have severely restricted the types of foods he’s willing to eat. For the last four years, he’s subsisted almost entirely on McCoys flame-grilled steak crisps (chips) and refused to eat anything else.
Like most families of children with food aversions, Lucas’s mother, who lives in Gomersal, West Yorkshire, knows that her son’s food choice isn’t a very healthy one and tries to encourage him to branch out when he can. But food aversions can be very severe, and people who struggle with them will often risk hospitalization for malnourishment or dehydration before consenting to eat or drink something that they are averse to. Families dealing with this sort of thing are often forced to realize that, although healthy diets are important, the most vital thing is that a child eats something, no matter what it is.
Lucas eats up to 20 packages of his favorite chips every day, which can leave his mom, Amanda, scrambling for ways to find him more to eat even under normal circumstances. But since the COVID-19 virus, a new strain of coronavirus, has begun sweeping the globe, it has been vastly more difficult for her to track down food for her son.
COVID-19 has infected hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and killed several thousand of them. As many parts of the world go on lockdown or prepare to go on lockdown, people have been buying up all the goods they believe they may need for their self-quarantine period, including toilet paper, masks, soap, hand sanitizer, and, of course, food of all sorts. Including the main staple of Lucas’s diet.
“He’s only eaten those particular crisps for about four years now,” says Amanda. “He’s always preferred savoury food and he’s only really eaten crisps or McDonald’s chips for years now. It was getting impossible to find any, especially at the moment with what’s going on.”
The mother searched every store in her area for the specific chips her son likes and even contacted McCoys in an attempt to get Lucas’s favorite food direct from the source. “I’ve tried to get a direct supply from McCoys but I’ve never been able to get hold of anyone,” she laments.
Amanda says she spent three sleepless nights wondering where she was going to get more food for her son. Luckily, however, Martin Kilgallon, managing director of a vending machine company called the FM Taste Ltd., heard about her son’s story and decided to do what he could to help.
Martin and his wife, Anne-Marie, have autistic children of their own and are no strangers to food aversions. All the same, they say they were “gobsmacked” when they learned that Lucas will only eat that one very specific brand and flavor of chip. Martin’s company didn’t have any of that particular type of chip, but he used his connections to find two boxes of it.
Between those and others that Amanda’s friends and family have collected, Lucas now has 140 packets of chips, enough to last him at least a week while his mom searches for more. It’s not a permanent solution, but we’re so happy to see people helping out members of their communities during this difficult time.
As a reminder, while we wait for COVID-19 to blow over, please buy only what you legitimately need rather than stockpiling lots of extra supplies. You never know if there’s somebody out there who desperately needs the items you’re buying. Leave some on the shelves so we can all get what we need!