Halloween is a magical time of fun and games and especially candy for most American children. But what if a single harmless piece of candy could kill your child? That can take the fun out of Halloween quickly.
Food Allergies in the United States
There are up to 15 million people in the United States who have allergies to one or more foods and one out of every 13 children has a food allergy, according to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). Only eight foods account for 90 percent of all food allergy reactions: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, shellfish, fish and wheat. Reactions can be as mild as a slight itching in and around the mouth to a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction that requires emergency treatment within minutes.
The Teal Pumpkin Project: and easy way to make a child smile
Now there is a new program designed to make Halloween more fun and inclusive for those children who suffer from food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple program to raise awareness of food allergies and urge people, churches and businesses that participate in trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities to include some nonfood treats to give out to children who have food allergies. According to FARE, children with food allergies do dress in costumes and go trick-or-treating with other children. However, they must give up most or all of their Halloween loot, since even candy that doesn’t directly contain an allergen, such as peanuts or wheat, may contain traces of those allergens because they are manufactured on the same equipment that candy containing those allergens are processed on. Even tiny trace amounts of an allergen can set off a deadly anaphylactic reaction.
Today is Halloween and this evening many children will dress up and go door-to-door or to businesses and churches to get candy. It’s not too late to put up your Teal Pumpkin sign and add a few nonfood items to your bowls of treats. Participate at your home and encourage local churches and businesses to do the same. It’s one of the easiest causes to support!
Why teal and what are nonfood treats?
Teal is the color of food allergy awareness. Nonfood items include glow bracelets, squishy balls or animals, pencils, crayons, jacks and stickers. There are most items listed on the FARE website.
How to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project
It’s easy to participate. FARE provides several posted and signs that you can print out and post on your lawn, mailbox or door, to raise awareness and let parents and children know you offer nonfood treats. There are flyers you can print and give to other parents in your neighborhood or to your church, to educate them.
- Print a sign and post it on your mailbox, lawn or door,
- If you have time, paint a real or plastic pumpkin teal or blue and display it with your regular orange pumpkin by your door or on your lawn,
- Buy nonfood treats, to give out to all children or just have them on hand for the children with food allergies,
- Tweet this and other articles and use the hashtag #TealPumpkinProject,
- Download Teal Pumpkin stickers to hand out or place conspicuously (downloads below),
- Use the flyers and informative website to inform schools, parents, churches and businesses about the teal pumpkins and food allergies so that next year there will be even more participants.
Good safety practices are simple but important.
Keep the food and nonfood treats in separate bowls. Although contact with an allergen is less likely to cause a reaction, it is still possible, especially with small children who may rub their eyes, nose or mouth after touching a candy wrapper that may contain an allergen. Ask if the children have food allergies or simply offer them the choice of nonfood or food.
Don’t give Play dough type products as nonfood treats since they can contain allergens.
Avoid latex as some children have allergies to latex.
Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple way to spread the fun on Halloween!
Downloads for posters, flyers, stickers and more available at FARE: The Teal Pumpkin Project