In the US, approximately one in thirteen children has been diagnosed with a food allergy, and for many of these children, even trace amounts of their allergen can be life-threatening. While nearly any food can be an allergen, many Halloween candies contain some of the most common ones: dairy, nuts, soy, and wheat. It’s also important to note that many of the “fun-sized” versions of popular candies contain different ingredients than their full-sized counterparts, making it difficult to know what is safe and what is not. A great way to provide a safe, fun alternative for children with food allergies, diabetes, food restrictions, or simply families who choose not to have candy is to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project and provide non-food treats for trick or treaters.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is sponsored by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) and was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET). It has gone nationwide, providing educational materials for families to use. Don’t have time to paint a pumpkin teal? Just download and print a Teal Pumpkin Project Sign- they also have coloring sheets we’ll be decorating our front door with, stickers to print out, and signs in Spanish and French! You can also join 100,000 households in the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge and list your house on their crowd-sourced map. I especially liked that it gave our general street location, but not exact address, and that I could explain what treats we’d be offering and why we choose to participate. I’ll also be spreading the word on social media, using FARE’s handy images and working.
Need ideas for what to offer? Stickers, temporary tattoos, and glow sticks are all popular alternatives and can be very inexpensively found at your local dollar store or section at most big box retailers; there’s still time to order from Oriental Trading Company, who offers a plethora of options! You’ll want to consider avoiding some brands of clay, which can contain wheat, and latex items, for children with latex allergies.
Interested in more information about why the Teal Pumpkin Project is so important or need questions answered? Check out their FAQs. Are you a local allergy family looking for support? Indy PoCHA (Parents of Children Having Allergies) holds meetings on the second Monday of every month at 7:00pm at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church (100 West. 86th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46260) in Room W125. They also have an active Facebook page- as they say, “you don’t have to walk this journey alone.”