Every kid knows Halloween is nothing without the thrill of trick or treating. But to a kid who suffers from food allergies, trick or treating is a ticking time bomb, as the threat of coming into contact with food that can cause an allergic reaction is a scary reality.
Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project, inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee and adopted by the Food Allergy Fund and food allergy activists across the country, the Teal Pumpkin Project is a simple way for all kids to participate in the holiday, whether they have dietary restrictions or not.
The project is simple. When you put a teal pumpkin on your doorstep, you indicate to kids with food allergies (and their parents!) that your household has non-food treats available, such as stickers, bubbles or other small toys. Kids with dietary restrictions then know your home is a safe place for them to trick or treat and request a non-food item. Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project doesn't mean you can't pass out candy, too, but to keep the experience safe for kids with food allergies, it's best to keep the candy and the non-food treats in separate bowls.
The teal pumpkin you display on your doorstep doesn't have to be fancy. You may have noticed teal pumpkins for sale at your local store, but you can also quickly paint a regular pumpkin to the same effect. No matter how you do it, your gesture will mean the world to a kid who feels left out during this holiday of tricks and treats.
If you want to find out which houses in your area are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit the Food Allergy and Research Education website and check out the interactive map. If you plan to participate, visit the website and add your own address so the families of kids with food allergies and other dietary restrictions will know that your home is a safe place to visit. The website also has other handy resources, such as signs, flyers, stickers and kids' activities, that explain and promote the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Non-food treats can be purchased at the dollar store, at party supply stores or online. Examples listed on the Food Allergy Research and Education website of great non-food items to pass out this holiday season include:
- Glow sticks, bracelets or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a grassroots movement, so spread the word to friends and family. If your child suffers from food allergies, ask your neighbors to support the project and direct them to this website to learn more.
Halloween doesn't have to be scary for kids with food allergies and dietary restrictions. Round up some non-food treats and a teal pumpkin, and add your home to the growing list of inclusive trick or treating stops. You may even find kids without food restrictions request non-food treats. On a night overrun with chocolate, caramel and marshmallow, stickers, stencils and bouncy balls are a welcome change of pace for everyone.
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