Drew’s Chicken Nuggets How a community rallied to get a 5-year-old his much-needed protein By Snigdha Sen and Archita Mandal
Drew’s Chicken Nuggets
How a community rallied to get a 5-year-old his much-needed protein
By Snigdha Sen and Archita Mandal
The lockdown descended on us fast. By March 17, six Bay Area counties placed millions of residents indoors, triggering panic purchase sprees for everything from non-perishable foods to paper products.
For Becky Bausman, a Belmont, CA-based communication executive, toilet paper was least of her concerns. She had to quickly stock up on foods her 5-year-old simply couldn’t do without: Clover organic whole milk yogurt in raspberry and vanilla flavors, Happy Baby Clearly Crafted Pouches in apples-guava-beats and pear-kale-spinach flavors, and Foster Farms’ dinosaur shaped frozen chicken nuggets.
Ms. Bausman stuffed her own freezer with four of the nearly 2-pound bags of nuggets. Then she stocked some more in her neighbor’s freezer. Four weeks on, the chicken nugget bags ran out, both in her freezer and in stores.
This was no ordinary challenge for the Bausmans. Drew, the older of their two boys, has Down Syndrome and food is his biggest challenge. Anything about a food — smell, taste, texture, color or even how it is presented — could be a dealbreaker for someone like Drew.
“He used to eat many more foods until he was about two and a half,” says Ms. Bausman. “And then he started to diminish the foods he would eat until eventually there were only so many left. He would eat a variety of nuggets. But eventually it had to be only these nuggets.”
And so, for Drew, there isn’t yet an alternative to Foster Farms’ dino chicken nuggets. Given his limited sources of protein intake, giving up on the nuggets could become a nutritional challenge.
“There’s a difference between a picky eater and a problem feeder,” explains Alexia Mazzone, founder of TALK, a Bay Area speech and language therapy practice. Drew is a client of TALK’s food and speech therapists. “A picky eater is the kid who doesn’t like vegetables or doesn’t like dino chicken nuggets but will still eat a variety of foods. But problem feeders usually have between 10 and 20 foods and are specific about the foods that they will eat and the way they’ll eat them,” says Ms. Mazzone.
Drew is a friendly, active 5-year-old, says his mother. He loves hockey, soccer, golf, football, walking the dogs, and climbing. “He is one of the most adaptable and happy kids you’ll meet,” says Ms. Bausman. Alexia Mazzone of TALK calls Drew “one of our little rockstars”.
Drew is also a problem feeder. He eats an identical diet every day, the Foster Farms’ dino nuggets being one of his staples.
Once Drew’s stock of nuggets ran out, Ms. Bausman turned for help to a local mothers’ group and Nextdoor, the neighborhood networking site. Within a day, over a hundred responses poured in. “I did not expect people to volunteer bags from their refrigerators and take nothing in return,” says Ms. Bausman. “I did not expect people to look up information on the web and have conversations with store managers on my behalf.”
The response was overwhelming.
Drew’s neighbors came through and how. His freezer is full with his preferred nuggets. Weeks after the post, neighbors still check in with Ms. Bausman.
And no one would take a dime in return for the nuggets. “We offered everyone who helped us at least toilet paper, flowers, money. No one would take anything,” says a grateful Ms. Bausman. So the Bausmans paid it forward and made a donation to Second Harvest, South Bay’s largest food bank.
Ms. Bausman describes Drew as a “joyful kid”, and her family as a “joyful family”. In her moment of crisis, her neighbors helped her keep it that way.
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