For most, Halloween is a fun night of no-so-scary goblins and innocent fun as kids run up and down neighborhood streets asking for treats. For most, the only fear is what mom or dad is going to squirrel away while they sleep. Children with food allergies have many fears on Halloween , however:
fear of cross contamination when a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and it’s not-quite sealed packaging allows fragments of peanut particles to leak all over their Tootsie Roll pops; fear of offending a well-meaning neighbor trying to put that Reese’s in their bucket even though they want to say no and save themselves the stress; fear of not being able to eat any of the candy because it all contains their allergen or is cross contaminated with their allergen, fear of not fitting in with the other kids who are enjoying themselves.; fear of taking a bite of something they think is safe and it’s not.
Last year, F.A.R.E., Food Allergy Research and Education, decided to create a movement to promote the distribution of non-food treats on Halloween. Named The Teal Pumpkin Project, it encourages folks to paint a pumpkin teal and place it outside or print out one of the fliers from the site alerting families to the fact that there is a non-food offering at that house. Not only is this simple act of kindness keeping kids safe and letting them fit in, it’s reducing the sugar intake on a high consumption night and giving them something to play with rather than something to eat that is gone in 5 seconds. Non-food options also help include those with other medical conditions who cannot consume food or candy, such as those with feeding tubes or tracheas.
After Halloween each year I stock up at Target, buying the packages of neon bats, erasers, pencils, vampire teeth, glow in the dark bracelets and anything else that looks awesome for Halloween and is marked down 50-75% off. I pack all of it away when I box up my Halloween decor – which is definitely not something you can do with perishable candy – and it’s ready for me the following year. I have a TON of stuff stashed away for this year which cost me about $4. I spent another $8 at the Dollar Tree and I’m all set. My only struggle now is how to keep my kids out of it!
I hope you all will consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year!