The Halloween season can be an exciting time for kids. Carving pumpkins, helping decorate the house, and picking out the perfect costume all lead up to one night of fabulous fun — trick-or-treating.
But halloween isn’t a treat for all kids. In fact, trick-or-treating can be scary for kids with food allergies or other medical ailments. More than 5.9 million kids have food allergies, and some of them are life threatening.
To help ensure these kids have a safe holiday, the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) started the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014. The Teal Pumpkin Project helps all kids have a chance to celebrate Halloween. By placing a teal pumpkin on their front porch, participants can signal to treat-or-treaters and their families that they are food-allergy friendly.
The project benefits more than just kids with food allergies. It can also help make Halloween more inclusive for children on special diets or with feeding tubes.
Rather than passing out candy, participants are encouraged to pick up inexpensive toys to hand out. In receiving toys, the children and their families don’t have to worry about their health and can just enjoy the holiday.
With food allergies on the rise — food allergies in kids doubled between 1997 and 2011 — there is no better time to make Halloween more inclusive. One simple thing to try is switching out candy that contains nuts, one of the eight major allergens in the United States, with an alternative like fresh fruit or a toy.
Anyone can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. All you need to do is paint one of your pumpkins teal, or print out a free sign, and pick up something to hand out on Halloween.