I always enjoyed trick-or-treating as a kid, but I always knew I’d never be able to eat all of the candy I got from kindly neighbors. At the end of each successful Halloween haul I’d sift through my candy, separating the chocolate into one pile and things like gummy worms, skittles and hard candies into another. The chocolate pile would go to family or friends, while the other candies were my “safe treats.”
I had grown up knowing I was deathly allergic to dairy and eggs. One bite of chocolate would book me a ticket straight to the ER. I joke now that at least it gets me seen right away, but allergic reactions like mine are life-threatening and should be taken extremely seriously. Growing up in the 90’s to early 2000’s was fun in many ways except for when it came to food allergy awareness. I had to educate my friends and adults about my allergies even when I was young enough to be in daycare.
That’s why, when I noticed a teal pumpkin on the front porch of my neighbor’s house the other day, I nearly burst into tears.
Teal is the Color of Food Allergy Awareness.
The Teal Pumpkin Project, trademarked by the Food Allergy Research & Education Organization (or FARE), is intended to spread food allergy awareness by including non-food treats for trick-or-treaters that have food allergies. The food allergy inclusive project was inspired by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee, whose founder/director, Becky Basalone, first came up with the idea for the inclusive teal pumpkins. FACET continues to partner with FARE to spread food allergy awareness around the world.
FARE has free Teal Pumpkin Project resources on their website that makes it easy for anyone to participate, even if they don’t have time to paint/find a teal pumpkin. If one decides to participate it’s best to keep the candy treats and the non-food treats in separate containers. FARE also notes that some non-food treats can still contain allergens, like moldable clay or items containing latex. Here’s a list from FARE of ideas for safe, non-food treats that are still fun for kids.
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets or novelty toys
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
According to FARE, about 1 in 13 children has a food allergy. Halloween should be a fun and safe time for any child. Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is a step for inclusion and food allergy awareness.