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Somerville woman bakes, sells breads to help treat daughter's chronic disease

Posted at 12:49 PM, Nov 18, 2023

SOMERVILLE, Texas — A few teaspoons of yeast, a cup of water, a pinch of salt and sugar and a couple scoops of flour.

It's the five ingredients Somerville mother Jenna Holloman uses to make bread for her daughter.

"I have been self-taught for about six years now," Holloman said.

She only baked bread on special occasions, but she's making it every week, just for her 12-year-old daughter.

Her daughter has inflammatory bowel disease, a chronic disease that affects the intestines.

"Since it is a chronic condition of the intestine, they have like bloody diarrhea, pain, urgency, and they want to go to the bathroom quite frequently, and they are also anxious all the time that has an impact on the brain as well," Texas A&M Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences Narendra Kumar said.

Holloman's daughter was forced to change her diet, avoiding most processed and fried foods.

"We look at the ingredients and the serving size... we'd go through that, and we'd half it," Holloman said. "If your body does fine, then you know you handle that at a limited amount."

But there aren't many resources available for her in rural counties like Burleson County.

About 60% of Americans live with chronic diseases, and 1.6 million of those have IBD, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

But residents in rural counties tend to die prematurely due to lack of healthcare and healthy foods, forcing residents like Holloman to seek care outside of the county, which often isn't always accessible.

"Brookshire does not cater to specific needs for people—at least our Brookshire's does not," she said. "My husband works in Bryan, so when I go pick him up, 90% of the time, I'm in the grocery store getting what she needs."

Kumar said factors like this can make the condition even worse for those living with it.

"What we have seen in particularly rural counties, there are also increase in number of pediatric IBD starting early on," he said.

Holloman is taking matters into her own hands, making her own sourdough, french and sandwich breads.

But it wasn't a simple decision at first.

Holloman noticed her daughter took more bathroom trips and bruising on her leg in April.

She took her to about four doctors, including two gastrointestinal specialists.

Meanwhile, her daughter's weight dropped from 95 to 63 pounds.

"She asked me if I was dying and as a mom, of course I said 'no,' but I had no idea what was going on," she said.

She found a specialist who recommended she start baking to help.

Now, her daughter is gaining her weight back, thanks to protein shakes, medicine and her bread.

"If she wants it, it's available for her... it's a lot better versus eating the processed stuff that's at the school or at the stores," she said.

Holloman is spreading her love for her daughter to the community, selling the breads she makes at the Snook Community Market event each weekend.

It's helping her pay the medical bills and others in the community who may have chronic conditions.

"I actually never thought about it," she said. "If it does help someone else with Peyton's need and other autoimmune diseases, it's amazing."

Holloman plans to sell Saturday at her booth from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Snook Veterinarian Clinic.