Living with food allergies isn’t easy. You have to be THAT person at the restaurant, and even enjoying the samples while you grocery shop — one of life’s greatest simple pleasures, if you ask us— is a dangerous game.
And Halloween can be hard, especially for kids with sensitivities. After all, the very essence of the holiday involves soliciting wrapped treats that could hold any manner of offending ingredients.
Many of these brave ghouls still trick or treat, but end up giving most of their spoils away. But a campaign called the Teal Pumpkin Project aims to change that, making trick-or-treating safe and fun for all.
It works like this: Homes that place a teal-hued pumpkin on the porch send a message that they offer alternative treats that are safe for all kids to enjoy, even those with allergies.
“Food allergies can be really serious, but by providing options families can keep Halloween safe for everybody,” said Valerie Novak, a Nurse Practitioner with SCL Health. “The campaign isn’t about taking candy away but making the holiday safe and fun. And there are so many sugary and fatty treats around, and even kids without allergies (and their parents) might enjoy the nonfood items, too!”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that food allergies affect between four and six percent of children in the U.S. It’s a significant public health concern because people with food allergies are vulnerable to reactions that run the gamut from digestive problems and hives to swollen airways and even anaphylaxis — a severe, life-threatening reaction.
So if you’re willing to skip the candy aisle this Halloween, or at least add a trip to the toy aisle, it’s easy to get involved — and some of your neighbors may thank you! Just take these three simple steps:
Step 1: The trick is non-food treats
Get crafty, get creative or try your local dollar store to pick up inexpensive items for passing out. Some suggestions:
- Finger puppets
- Glow sticks
- Playing cards
- Bouncy balls
- Comic books
Remember: If you’re offering both candy and nonfood items, keep them in separate containers to avoid contamination.
Step 2: Paint that pumpkin
Pick up some nontoxic teal paint and a paintbrush for a fun (and significantly less messy) decorating method. If you’re more of an acquirer than a DIYer, retailers like Michael’s and Target sell them, too.
Step 3: Spread the word
Place that teal pumpkin prominently on the porch and print out a free sign to post on your door. You can even add your home address or street to this crowd-sourced fever map to let parents know your home is participating.
The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT® and the Teal Pumpkin Project® logo are registered trademarks of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). Photo credit: FARE