The Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization encourages families and communities to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween season to ensure a safe experience for those children who suffer from various food allergies.
Participating is easy and will help to raise awareness of food allergies during a season that revolves around food, mainly treats made with peanuts and milk products, common food allergens. FARE has suggested painting a pumpkin teal and placing it on your porch along with a sign notifying trick-or-treaters that your home is passing out non-food treats. FARE has made this easy by providing a free sign to print out on their website: www.foodallergy.org.
Another way to raise awareness this Halloween is to print out copies of the flyer provided on FARE’s website and place them in your neighbor’s mailboxes or even post to your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account. Since this is the first year that FARE is raising awareness, it is especially important to spread the word about the dangers of food allergies during Halloween.
Many fun, inexpensive items can be passed out that children will love just as much as candy.
A popular item would be glow sticks because the children can wear them throughout the night. Other items include pencils, stickers, tattoos, notepads, bubbles, crayons and bookmarks. Keep in mind that some non-food treats still contain allergens, such as wheat, found in Play-Doh.
The last thing a child with allergies wants to hear after a fun night of trick-or-treating is that they cannot have half of what they received. Julie Wilson, the mother of a child with food allergies, said that her son is “constantly irritated by being told he can’t have xyz when all of his friends are eating it because it contains nuts.” This is a concern that arises at other times of the year as well. “I have seen his disappointment at birthday parties and special events as well as in everyday life for years,” says Wilson.
Believe it or not, children with severe food allergies do still participate in trick-or-treating on Halloween. They do not want to feel left out and want to do something fun with their friends.
Athena Silver has a daughter who suffers from a milk allergy. She said, “Milk is in everything. We buy candy and switch it out when we get home. During the night, we can’t give her anything because ingredients aren’t listed on individual packages.” Families with children who suffer from food allergies have to take extra precautions to ensure their children’s safety.
“Something that should be a fun night for our family is tainted by seeing a sad look on her face because she can’t enjoy it like her friends and by fear that our child could die,” said Silver.
This project not only raises awareness, but maintains fairness among all children who want to enjoy a night of trick-or-treating. The Teal Pumpkin Project allows children to keep their goodies after returning home. A treat does not always have to involve food, so this slight change will not alter the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating.
FARE and families who experience food allergies hope to continue this tradition for years to come in order to maintain a happy experience for everyone.