By Dawn M. Chiossi
Kids living with food allergies are encouraged to look for the teal pumpkin or sign outside homes this year while trick or treating, and participate in the 4th Annual Teal Pumpkin Project: a nationwide as well as local initiative.
Originating in 2014, The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Research Education (FARE) Committee of East Tennessee, designed to make Halloween a safe and happy holiday for all trick-or-treaters.
During that time, households from 50 states and more than a dozen countries have actively participated in the project.
Simply by placing a teal pumpkin or sign outside this Halloween, it shows that homes are offering non-food treats, making trick-or treating a fun, safe and all-inclusive event for all kids out there: Even those with food allergies. According to the numbers, a staggering one in 13 kids have food allergies-with that number growing all of the time.
Far from being a bold color choice for a standard orange staple of Halloween, a teal pumpkin can be a lifesaver.
When people have food allergies, any food can cause an allergic reaction. Some of the most common include milk, eggs, nuts, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and sesame. As such, Halloween and trick or treating can be an isolating, depressing and dangerous experience instead of a fun holiday. It can be a frightening gamble. In living with food allergies, it is never as simple as just eating: It is a study in reading labels, looking for hidden ingredients, ingredients going by different names, and worrying about cross contamination. For the people living with food allergies, eating the wrong foods and coming across these ingredients can be deadly.
Taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Challenge is easy. Individuals can purchase a teal pumpkin at any number of any retailers out there, or paint one themselves, this can be a festive event for families to do together.
Non-food offerings can include toys, stickers, glow-sticks, mini books, coloring books and crayons, or anything at all.
Dangerously, allergens can hide in all kinds of foods out there, even foods considered “safe.” Many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, soy, eggs, and wheat- the most common allergens in children and adults. Many miniature chocolates do not have labels, so it is impossible for those with food allergies to determine which kind is safe to eat.
Concerned about the rising number of people with food allergies and anaphylactic reactions to food, those at FARE are excited to bring this program to households from all over, and they hope that everyone joins in.
As FARE CEO, Lisa Gable remarks, “Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project has a collective impact bringing people together to provide a more inclusive trick or treating experience for all. We are excited this year to join forces with other food allergy organizations who share our commitment to keeping children with food allergies safe and hope to see a teal pumpkin on every block in America.”
FARE thanks CVS Pharmacy and Michaels for their 2018 sponsorship.
Getting started is easy, just visit www.tealpumkinproject.org to add a name to the map and print out a free sign to put on the door.
Visit https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project/free-resources and don’t forget to spread the word!
This is a great way to not only raise awareness about people dealing with food allergies, but also to give a wonderful alternative that will last even longer than the sweet taste of candy.