Jenna Roman’s son Jerico eats two boxes of Nature’s Path frozen maple cinnamon waffles every day — and nothing else.
The nearly 10-year-old Surrey, B.C., boy has autism along with extreme oral aversion and complex eating challenges, making it difficult for him to stomach any other kind of food. So besides a smoothie discreetly packed with vegetables and vitamins, it’s 24 waffles a day, seven days a week.
But now Jerico’s family is facing a stressful impact on their food supply: the B.C. company has discontinued the waffles, and supplies in Canadian stores have essentially run out.
“Heartbreak, panic, worry, stress of this happening all over again” is what Roman, a single mother of three, said she felt when she found out the waffles were soon to be no more.
“A parent not having food to feed to their child — especially dealing with so many challenges — I can’t even express in words what that feels like.”
Roman says Jerico has been facing issues with food nearly his entire life. Attempts to try and broaden his palette, including therapy, have only proven to trigger anxiety and heighten his gag reflex issues, creating a “vicious cycle” Roman has struggled to break.
She said Jerico has been eating nothing but the Nature’s Path waffles since early last year, after a bout of sickness led her son to stop eating for nearly two weeks. The maple cinnamon treats were the only food he would accept after relearning how to eat and drink.
“His first response (to tasting the waffles) was ‘Mmm!’ which for him was very surprising, but relieving for me,” Roman said.
“At the beginning of January (2021) it seemed to be a little harder to find these, and two weeks ago I found out they’re being discontinued in Canada. Then I found out they’re being discontinued altogether.”
Roman started calling all the grocery stores across the Lower Mainland to find the remainder of the local supply, before reaching out to the Richmond, B.C., company itself.
A friend of a friend who works at Nature’s Path then spread Roman’s story through the company until management took notice.
Samantha Falk — a former Global BC anchor who now leads Nature’s Path’s communications team — says the family’s plight struck a chord and the company wanted to help.
“We reached out across North America and most of our waffles have clearly been dispersed to stores,” she said. “But we didn’t give up, and we managed to track down six cases at a warehouse freezer in Illinois.”
Falk said the cases will be shipped to Roman, who has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for a deep freeze to store the waffles.
As for what happens once those supplies run out, Falk said the company’s research and development team is working on converting their commercial recipe for home use so Roman can replicate the waffles in her own kitchen.
Roman is thanking the company for going the extra mile to track down her son’s favourite food.
“Just knowing that I don’t have to worry anymore, I can’t express that into words,” she said through tears.