Allergic to food: Sioux Falls Toddler Living with Rare Food Allergy

18-month old Zach Vander Grift can eat about 5 foods

It’s a “medical mystery” of sorts: a Sioux Falls boy allergic to almost every type of food.

The number of things 18-month old Zach Vander Grift can eat can be counted on one hand.

“He is a crazy, happy, active little boy,” says mom Libby.

Watching Zach bounce around in his living room, you wouldn’t know he’s living with the extremely rare and complicated medical condition.

“He has what’s called FPIES,” she said. “It’s Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.”

FPIES is a type of food allergy that affects the gastrointestinal tract. The condition means nearly everything Zach eats makes him deathly ill.

“He would vomit, he would have bloody diarrhea. Basically when he eats food, the proteins that are in his food, his stomach reacts to.”

His diet is so limited; Zach can only consume one kind of water, one brand of infant formula, and his mother’s breast milk. But after years of trying new foods and failing, Zach had a breakthrough.

Roast from a local farmer raising all organic grass-fed pasture raised cattle was the first solid food Zach is able to eat without an allergic reaction.

“It was party central here when we found a safe food,” said Zach’s father Dave. “That’s an enormous, enormous deal. Zero to 1 is an enormous leap.”

It’s one small, delicious victory in the face of a complicated condition. But the discovery of the new safe food comes at a cost: it’s expensive. The family has established a YouCaring page to update on Zach’s food progress and raise money for the cost of his food. (

Now that they’ve found at least one food Zach is able to eat, the family will also need to purchase new utensils, pots, pans and containers that only to avoid cross-contamination with other foods or products Zach has had reactions to.

There’s still a long road ahead, more foods to try, and likely, a lot more fails.

“We’ve probably tried about 20 to 25 foods, but there’s thousands,” said Dave.

Most children with FPIES usually grow out of it after a few years, but because his case is so severe, Zach could live with the condition into puberty.

A LuLaRoe fundraiser is taking place on Zach’s behalf here. More info can  be found here:

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