Halloween should be a time of family fun and festivities, but for parents of children with food allergies, it can be a time of fear and anxiety. Support the Teal Pumpkin Project® to provide a safe and inclusive holiday for everyone. Here’s how!
There’s something about crisp fall air, changing leaves, and kids in costume going door-to-door that makes Halloween one of the best holidays of the year.
That is, unless your child has food allergies.
According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), 1 in 13 children has food allergies. What’s more, food allergies in children increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011. Serious (read: life-threatening) allergies to peanuts and tree nuts have more than tripled.
The reality for many families is that Halloween, with all it’s fun, can be a difficult and scary holiday.
That’s why when FARE initiated the Teal Pumpkin Project® campaign in 2014 (a tradition that originated in 2012 by a mother of two in Tennessee) parents everywhere breathed a sigh of relief. The campaign has been wildly successful and continues to grow every year.
If you’re not familiar with the Teal Pumpkin Project® or thought to yourself, “What’s up with all the teal pumpkins?” I’ll quickly fill you in.
About the Teal Pumpkin Project®
The color teal has been used for allergy awareness for more than 20 years; much like yellow represents military support and red represents AIDS and HIV awareness.
In the past, many children with food allergies have been forced to attend special trick-or-treating events in lieu of traditional trick-or-treating or have had to forego trick-or-treating altogether.
When a person puts a teal pumpkin on their porch or hangs a teal pumpkin sign, it tells food-allergy children and parents that they provide a safe alternative to traditional candy. This “treat” is usually a small toy and is affectionately referred to in the TPP community as a “trinket.”
This year, my home will be added to the map of those offering “trick-or-trinket” for food sensitive children.
How To Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project®
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Here’s how you can help make the Teal Pumpkin Project® a success in your own home and help the movement grow.
1. Let Others Know You’re a Teal Pumpkin Project® House
Purchase or create your own teal pumpkin for your front porch. Or better yet, put up a sign in advance of Halloween where everyone in the neighborhood can see it and be sure to add your address to FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project® map!
I like to create my own stuff when I can. It’s cheaper and gives me a little creative break. So, of course, I made my own Teal Pumpkin Project® sign. If you’d like, you can download a copy for yourself!
There are a ton of novelty Halloween toys for kids both online and at the local dollar store. Amazon has some great food-free treat collections! Of course, there’s always Oriental Trading Company, which offers a plethora of Halloween fun things at a reasonable price.
Some ideas for allergy-friendly trinkets include:
- Wind-up toys
- High bounce rubber balls
- Temporary tattoos
- Stress balls
- Glow sticks
Be creative and have fun with it!
3. Keep Allergy-Safe Treats Separate from Traditional Treats
A lot of Teal Pumpkin Project® participants hand out both non-food and candy treats. If you choose to do the same, it’s important that you do so safely.
Some allergies are so severe that the slightest amount will cause an anaphylactic reaction. That means residue on the outer wrapper of a peanut butter cup can initiate a life-threatening cascade of events.
The good news is that this scenario can be easily avoided by simply keeping allergy-safe treats in a separate bowl from traditional treats.
4. How to Identify Food Allergy Trick-or-Treaters
Some parents equip their kiddos with identifying markers, like a teal shirt, a teal pumpkin trick-or-treat bag or bucket, or even a teal bracelet. But the easiest way to know for sure is to ask.
FARE provides a free printable sign inviting trick-or-treaters to choose which treat they want. “Would you like a treat from the teal pumpkin or the candy bowl?” works just fine too.
By advertising yourself as a Teal Pumpkin Project® supporter, stocking up on food-free goodies, and keeping safe trinkets separate from unsafe treats, you can make Halloween a safer and more inclusive holiday for everyone.