A Canadian mother was distraught when the organic food company Nature’s Path discontinued its Cinnamon Maple Waffles this year — because they are the absolute only thing that her almost-ten-year-old son with autism will eat.
As a symptom of his autism, Jerico, from Surrey, British Columbia, has extreme food aversion issues, meaning it can often be difficult for his mother, Jenna Roman, to get him to eat anything at all — but these particular Cinnamon Maple Waffles were the exception.
So when Nature’s Path announced that it was discontinuing the flavor, Jenna went into planning mode, setting up a GoFundMe account that would enable her to stock up on the waffles — and freezers to store them in — before they left shelves.
But when the company learned of her plight, they did her one better, offering her the waffle recipe and a starter set of ingredients so she could make them at home.
Food face: As a symptom of his autism, Jerico, from Surrey, British Columbia, has extreme food aversion issues, and will only eat a specific brand and flavor of waffles
Struggle: Jenna Roman explained that she can’t get her son to eat anything except Nature’s Path Cinnamon Maple Waffles — and he will go without food for days without them
Jenna explained her son’s plight on the GoFundMe page, which she launched over a month ago.
She explained that her autistic son Jerico has extreme issues with oral aversion and complex eating, and has struggled with eating since he was eight months old and was first introduced to textured food.
Food aversions are quite common among people with autism, who often have increased sensitivity. They may refuse to eat or only agree to eat a limited number of foods due to a reaction to taste, temperature, color, smell, or texture,
For Jerico, the issue can become so extreme that he suffers from anxiety and migraines and stops eating for days.
‘I’ve tried everything including intense feeding therapy but it triggered major anxiety around eating, which triggered his migraines, which then he stops eating/drinking and regresses. It’s a vicious cycle,’ Jenna wrote.
She noted that Jerico always stops eating and drinking altogether when he gets sick, and after he fell in in February 2020 with what Jenna suspects was COVID, he stopped eating anything at all for 12 days. He also stopped drinking for five.
Stocking up: When the flavor was discontinued at the beginning of the year, she went on a hunt for all of the remaining boxes she could find in stores
All set: She set up a GoFundMe to buy up the boxes and freezers to store them in
‘It was very traumatic for our family,’ the single mom of three said.
‘When I was able to get him to start again, he had regressed so much he had to relearn how to drink and eat.’
She managed to get him to accept a type of cinnamon waffles, which were discontinued in June of 2020. After two weeks of testing him on several more brands, she found success with Nature’s Path Maple Cinnamon Waffles.
Then those were discontinued, too.
‘I’ve tried to see if there’s anything comparable around but there’s nothing and nothing he will accept,’ Jenna wrote. ‘Not everyone understands the severity of Jerico’s challenge and [some] think that eventually he will just accept another kind — but it doesn’t work like that.
‘He would go on a hunger strike if I didn’t have his waffles,’ she said.
‘I’m just trying to feed my son/ I’ve been through so much around him just eating, something that would be simple for other children but it’s a extremely hard challenge for my son,’ she added.
So in an effort to buy herself time, she asked others for help. So far, $5,020 has been donated to her GoFundMe account, while some people have bought the remaining waffles at their grocery stores to deliver to Jenna.
Surprise! The brand spent a month reworking its recipe so that Jenna would be able to make them herself at home
All set! They even delivered a set of ingredients for her to start with
She has been able to buy several storage freezers to hold her growing waffle supply, some of which was donated by Nature’s Path directly. The brand had searched for remaining supply and had cases shipped to her from a warehouse in Illinois.
And then she really lucked out: Nature’s Path reconfigured their recipe so it would work for home use, and delivered it — along with ingredients to get started — to Jenna’s home.
Nature’s Path’s communications director Samantha Falk told CBS News that she personally handed off the recipe. which took the R&D team a month to come up with, since small-scale home cooking is different from cooking on an industrial level.
They tested several versions to make sure both the taste and texture were perfect.
‘Thank you Nature’s Path Team for understanding & caring to make this happen for Jerico,’ Jenna wrote in a GoFundMe update. ‘Most companies would not of gone this far to help and without you guys I don’t know what I would of done.;