The Teal Pumpkin Project is an awareness campaign started by the Food Allergy Resource and Education (FARE) organization to help promote a food-safe environment for children suffering from food allergies and intolerances. Inclusion is extremely important for all children in every aspect of their lives. However, those with health concerns around food often feel left out of celebrations and holidays because their issues around food limit their choices. FARE has created an entire awareness campaign designed to teach everyone how we can participate and help all children feel safe on Halloween.
An estimated 15 million Americans have a food allergy, and 5.9 million of those are children under 18. That’s approximately two children in every classroom, so chances are you know someone, or your child knows someone with a food allergy. Allergic reactions to a food allergy can range in severity from itchy skin to anaphylaxis, which can result in death.
Food allergies and intolerances are not only serious, they can be embarrassing for the affected child. There is so much stress around what they can eat that they sometimes don’t want to eat anywhere but home. In the spirit of inclusiveness, FARE recommends four ways individuals and families can participate in keeping children with allergies and intolerances safe on Halloween.
Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters
The “treat” part of trick-or-treat can be more than simply candy. So many other fun things that don’t involve food can be offered to children. Items such as stickers, glow sticks or necklaces, pencils, erasers, and ghoulish temporary tattoos come to mind. Many of these fun, food replacements can be picked up at a local dollar store or at many online superstores. The Teal Pumpkin Project has grown, and many retailers are getting involved to make it easier to provide treats that don’t involve food. It’s a lot of fun to watch kids see that there is more to the evening than candy.
Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home
Teal is the color of food allergy awareness. By placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep, you are indicating that you offer non-food treats. You don’t actually have to paint a pumpkin teal if you don’t have the time. Teal pumpkins can be purchased from many online retailers, craft stores, and fabric stores. If neither of those options works for you, FARE has free printable signs you can place on your door to indicate you offer non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project map
The next important activity is to add your house to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map. By placing your home on this online map, families looking for non-food treats in their area will know you are participating and supporting the project.
Spread the word to others in your neighborhood
Last, you can further FARE’s message by sharing your participation on social media. By using the hashtag #tealpumpkinproject on your social media sites, you can help FARE spread the word about this campaign and raise additional awareness about food safety on Halloween.