Halloween is an age old tradition where kids dress up like something or someone else and run around in the dark collecting candy; something that is only acceptable one time a year. For many, Trick-Or-Treating is a staple of our childhood, creating fond memories that we look back upon as adults. For many the most concerning part of Trick-Or-Treating is worries about poisonous candy in our children’s bags and pillowcases given by the questionable neighbors that never say “Hi.” Parents have gotten used to sticking to familiar territory when taking their kids out and have made a ritual out of carefully checking each piece of candy to make sure it hadn’t been tamplered with. However for some families poisonous candy is the least of their worries, because their child has a food allergy.
The job of the body’s immune system is to identify and destroy germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that make you sick. A food allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets a harmless food protein, an allergen, as a threat and attacks it.
If that child ingests something in their food that contains one of these allergens they could become very sick; thefore parents have to be very diligent in watching the ingredients present in all food their child is given.
A child with a food allergy has to: 1. Strictly avoid of problem foods, 2. Have a Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan in case of accidental ingestion of the allergen, 3. Have emergency medical identification (e.g., bracelet, other jewelry) on at all times, 4. Carry medication wherever he goes, 5. Take medication at the first sign of a reaction, 6. Get to an emergency room for follow-up treatment following a severe reaction.
Why should this be important to you? Food allergies affect 15 million Americans,1 in 13 children in the United States, and roughly two in every classroom. Teachers and parents especially need to be aware if any of the children in their classrooms or who may come into to their homes, may have a food allergy.
Thankfully, an organization called FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) is encouraging communities to start a new tradition that will help make Halloween less scary for the families of children with food allergies: this tradition is the Teal Pumpkin Project. This project encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. Supporters of this campaign should paint a pumpkin teal (the color of food allergy awareness) to place in front of their house, and should should print out a sign from FARE to indicate they have non-food treats available. The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies, and to keep Halloween a fun and positive experience for all.
There are many ideas for non-food items to give out the night of Halloween, some of these include glow sticks,bracelets, necklaces, pencils, pens, crayons or markers, bubbles Halloween erasers or pencil toppers, mini slinkies, whistles, bouncy balls and so many more.
Help raise awareness of food allergies and this initiative during the Halloween season by sharing on social media using hashtag #TealPumpkinProject.