Many children with autism struggle with food aversions and sensitivities to specific tastes and textures. For some, these issues are mild and simply cause a person with autism to become a “picky” eater. Other times, however, food sensitivities severely restrict a person’s diet; in extreme cases, people with food sensitivities will only eat a handful of food items and nothing else.
Such is the case for Jenna Roman’s son, Jerico. Jenna manages to get him to consume a smoothie every day in order to get the vitamins and minerals he needs, but other than that, there is only one thing Jerico will eat: Nature’s Path frozen maple cinnamon waffles.
10-year-old Jerico has struggled with extreme oral aversion and complex eating challenges for most of his life. He has great difficulty stomaching almost any kind of food, and, after an illness last year, he stopped eating entirely for about two weeks.
But when Jenna introduced him to Nature’s Path waffles, he unexpectedly loved them. “His first response was ‘Mmm!’ which for him was very surprising, but relieving for me,” says Jenna.
Because these specific waffles are almost all he is willing to eat, Jerico goes through two boxes of them a day. That’s 24 waffles a day, seven days a week. It’s an odd thing for a family to have to buy so much of, but Jerico’s mom was just glad he was eating something.
However, Jenna didn’t know Jerico’s favorite waffles wouldn’t be around forever. At the beginning of the year, she noticed she was having more trouble finding them. She later heard that Nature’s Path Organic Foods was discontinuing the flavor, first in Canada, where the family lives, and then in the U.S.
Jenna searched all the grocery stores in her area before reaching out to the company itself, which is located in Richmond, British Columbia. A friend of a friend who works for the company spread Jerico’s story, which struck a chord with management.
“We reached out across North America and most of our waffles have clearly been dispersed to stores,” says Samantha Falk, who leads Nature’s Path’s communications team. “But we didn’t give up, and we managed to track down six cases at a warehouse freezer in Illinois.”
The company sent the remainder of their maple cinnamon waffles to the Roman family and then got to work creating an at-home recipe for replicating the flavor so that Jenna can make Jerico’s waffles herself and will never have to worry about them being discontinued again.
Jenna launched a GoFundMe campaign to help her pay for all the waffles, a new freezer to store the waffles, and ingredients for the trial-and-error process of learning to make the waffles herself. Any leftover money will go toward feeding therapy to help Jerico learn to handle new foods better and hopefully expand his diet. The campaign has already raised 100 percent of the $5,000 initially requested.
For her part, Jenna is incredibly thankful to Nature’s Path Organic Foods and everyone else who has supported her and Jerico during this difficult time.
“Just knowing that I don’t have to worry anymore, I can’t express that into words,” she says.
Check out the video below to learn more about Jerico and Jenna’s quest to find him more of the only food he likes to eat.Whizzco