Neighbors help Attleboro mom stock up on SpaghettiOs for child with autism

September 13, 2020 | 5:02 PM

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the Bay State, the only food Crystal MacDonald’s daughter would eat was SpaghettiOs with Meatballs. 

The 11-year-old girl, Ashlyn, has severe non-verbal autism, according to TODAY, and she first tried the canned pasta at age four. Since mid-March, MacDonald, an Attleboro resident, said her daughter has been unable to eat anything else.

“Before the pandemic, she would eat a few other types of foods like cheese pizza, yogurt and grilled cheese. Food is a very sensory experience for her and I believe that most foods are too much, texture and taste-wise, for her,” MacDonald told the news site. “Once she lost her routine of school, and like so many people with autism, routine is vital to their mental health, she stopped eating other foods. I think the predictability of the texture and taste of the SpaghettiOs brings a sense of control and comfort to her in this time of chaos.”

So while families across Mass. stormed their local markets for toilet paper, baking supplies, and disinfectants, MacDonald was in a frenzy of her own to stock up on SpaghettiOs.

Knowing how quickly the product was dwindling, Today reported, the mom of five hunted for it at stores and food pantries across the area. She often called or visited up to 20 a day. 

Come August, the Sun Chronicle featured MacDonald in a story about people’s experiences with food shortages and her local community rallied together, offering tips on where to find the essential item, and in some cases delivering packs of the cans directly to her doorstep.  

On Thursday, Campbell’s Soup Company caught wind of Ashlyn’s story, pledging to send the MacDonald family a year’s supply of SpaghettiOs and Meatballs, according to TODAY. 

“That is such an incredible gift for my daughter and for us,” she told the news site. “This will bring so much joy and relieve so much stress. This is an amazing blessing and I can’t express my gratitude enough. I don’t have enough words.”


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