The Teal Pumpkin Project aims to make the event a little easier for them by encouraging households to offer alternatives to candy. It’s a national initiative organized by Food Allergy Research and Education. Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communications at FARE, says it’s easy to take part, “You place a teal pumpkin outside your home, which indicates to trick-or-treaters that you have non-food treats available.”
She says food allergies are a bigger issue than many people realize, “One in 13 children in the United States or roughly two in every classroom have a food allergy. That means there’s a good chance there’s a child in your neighborhood who’s managing this disease.”
She also says having options available for trick-or-treaters helps many other local kids, “In addition, there are children with other conditions such as diabetes, celiac disease – we’ve also heard from the autism and ADHD communities. For them, candy may present a problem, and so by providing non-food treats, it’s a great way to let all of the children in our neighborhoods and our communities know that we care about them and we want them to have a safe and fun Halloween experience.”
LaFemina says families of children with food allergies or other conditions should take extra care during Halloween. She says kids should not be allowed to eat candy until an adult’s had the chance to check all of it, “It’s important to read labels carefully and to know that some Halloween-size candy may not be made in the same way as its larger counterparts, so it may be that the larger size is safe for your child but the fun size or the smaller size is not. So we really recommend to read those labels carefully and to not take a risk if it isn’t clear what’s included.” She also recommends that kids who’ve been prescribed a epinephrine auto injector have it with them, in case they do have a reaction.
For those planning on taking part in this year’s Teal Pumpkin Project, LaFemina says there are plenty of things besides candy you can give to trick-or-treaters, “There are a number of great non-food treat options, things like glow bracelets and glow necklaces, stickers, pencils, pirate eye patches, bouncy balls, bubbles, and so much more.”
For more ideas or for more information about the project, visit TealPumpkinProject.org. The website also lets participants add their homes to an interactive map to let trick-or-treaters and their families know where non-food treats will be given out.