Kids have many things to look forward to during Halloween. They get to wear costumes, they get to go trick or treating, and perhaps the best part of all is they get to eat candy, chocolates, and other goodies.
For some children, however, Halloween goodies can cause potential harm. Children with food allergies may unsuspectingly eat candies or chocolate with nuts or milk. It is then that Halloween really takes on a spooky turn. What is supposed to be a fun holiday turns into a real nightmare for children and their mothers alike.
This is what mothers of kids with food allergies dread the most: their kids eating food they’re allergic to and all the negative consequences it has on their children.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is an initiative by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). The project aims to include all kids in the Halloween fun by creating a safer and happier trick-or-treating experience for everyone. It specifically raises awareness of food allergies and promotes non-food treats so all trick-or-treaters can join in the fun.
Households joining the project will place non-food treats (such as bracelets, stickers, pencils, and glow sticks) in a bowl outside their homes. But non-food treats that contain food allergens, like some brands of moldable clay, and latex should also be avoided.
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Participants should also place a teal pumpkin to signify they’re participation in the project. If you have no time to do this, you can also simply print out the sign (available for download at their official website) and post it on your door.
Last year, households from 50 states and seven counties joined the project. This year, the organization aims for more households to join. You can join the Teal Pumpkin Project by pledging here.
After joining, you can add your household to the Teal Pumpkin Project map. The map connects all households joining in the project this year.
“The idea that we could walk around our neighborhood and see other families that are supporting children with food allergies is pretty cool,” says Becky Hayes, mother of two children with food allergies. “I’m very hopeful that this year we’ll see some teal pumpkins.”
If your neighborhood has no Teal Pumpkin Project participants come Halloween, follow the advice of Dr. Clifford Bassett, a New York-based allergist.
“Allow kids to be kids (but) be prepared,” he says. He recommends parents should prepare inhalers and epi-pens as well as some toxin-free snacks to avoid temptation.