Halloween is supposed to be a fun holiday, full of tricks and treats for kids of all ages. But when your child suffers from food allergies, Halloween can be a not-so-fun, stress-filled holiday.
When my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies four years ago it was right before Halloween and all I could think about was how she would handle trick-or-treating. When she came home on Halloween night with her plastic pumpkin filled to the brim with candy I quickly dispatched it all to two piles: “safe” and “not safe.”
I bet you can guess which pile was bigger? The “not safe” pile was full of every chocolate candy bar, anything with peanuts or tree nuts, and even small bags of pretzels. The “safe” pile was full of Starburst, Skittles, and suckers.
Safe, but not necessarily “fun.”
Last year I discovered a fun way to help kids with food allergies celebrate Halloween safely and still have a great time.
It’s called the Teal Pumpkin Project and it’s sponsored by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education). The project was launched in 2014 to help raise awareness of food allergies and promote the inclusion of all children with food allergies throughout the Halloween season.
Ever since my daughter was diagnosed with food allergies I’ve always had a “safe” bowl of candy for trick-or-treat on Halloween night just because I thought it was the “right” think to do. The non-food treat is a better alternative because sometimes, even with a bowl full of Skittles in front of them, kids just want the mini candy bars and those aren’t safe for many food allergies, including peanuts and tree nuts.
The Teal Pumpkin Project helps provide a safe, non-food alternative for kids with food allergies (and kids who can’t have candy for other health reasons). Suggestions for your own Teal Pumpkin Project goodies include stickers, small erasers, small bouncy balls, glow bracelets, and more.
Of course you can still have a bowl of candy for trick-or-treat too, just make sure to keep the food and non-food items separate.
If you want to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year you can buy a pumpkin (real or fake) and paint it teal (the color of food allergy awareness). Then you can take the pledge here. And then just provide a safe, non-food alternative on Halloween. It’s that simple.
If you’re a member of your school’s PTO/PTA and your school is hosting a trunk-or-treat event, consider bringing your teal pumpkin to the event and supporting kids with food allergies.
Holidays that are centered around food – like Halloween – can be especially difficult for kids with food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project is one simple way to include the kids and exclude the food. Let’s make Halloween special for everyone this year!