If your child has food allergies, than you know that trick-or-treating can be a real nightmare. Luckily, there’s a new initiative called the Teal Pumpkin Project that’s aimed at making Halloween safe and inclusive for all kids, even those with allergies.
Launched in 2014 in the U.S. by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the Teal Pumpkin Project helps raise awareness of food allergies by having participants place teal pumpkins outside their homes. This lets trick-or-treaters know that the house will be giving out non-food items, such as pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos and so on, instead of candy. This way, all kids, even those with extreme food allergies, can feel safe while trick-or-treating on Halloween.
For parents of kids with allergies, the project has come as a relief. Pennsylvania dad Josh Zimmerman, whose son has a severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts, told WNEP: “Trying to tell someone so young they can’t go trick or treating when all their friends are doing it, it’s just a killer. Have that nice little teal pumpkin out or a poster letting you know it’s safe, terrific.”
According to FARE, one in every 13 children is affected by food allergies. The strongest reactions tend to be triggered by milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat or shellfish.
While the project is aimed at keeping kids safe, Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communications at FARE, says that’s only one of the initiative’s positive effects.
“Learning about and participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages empathy and a sense of community,” she told. “And, the smile on a child’s face when they see that a neighbour has given them a treat they can enjoy is really something special.”
In Canada, there are close to 300,000 kids and adolescents with food allergies, Global reports. Food Allergy Canada is now working to spread food allergy awareness and is hoping to get 100,000 households involved in the project this year.
Mom Ashley Valentini told CTV: “Halloween used to be so full of anxiety, so panicked, thinking you have to look through every single bag and worry, worry, worry. You go to every house and you think about what they’re giving your child, but when you see these blue pumpkins it takes all of that away.”