By now you have probably seen this cute teal pumpkin floating around your social media and news pages. What is it? Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) has launched an innovative campaign to help make trick-or-treating less scary for children with food allergies.
This campaign encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies by providing non-food treats for trick-or-treaters and painting a pumpkin teal – the color of food allergy awareness – to place in front of their house along with a free printable sign from FARE to indicate they have non-food treats available. — Foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project
Fortunately my children do not have severe food allergies. I can’t imagine the worries a parent might have when birthday parties or holidays roll around, especially when their children are little and unable to determine for themselves what is safe or unsafe for their allergies. For Halloween, I know some families who allow their child to trick-or-treat, but they have an alternate “safe” goody bag waiting for them at home. Wouldn’t it be nice if the kids with allergies could receive safe treats (or non-food treats) while they’re out this year?
The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote inclusion, safety and awareness for children with these special needs. I think it is wonderful to encourage neighbors to consider offering an alternative to the typical treats (in addition to candy for those that can have it). Bracelets, stickers, temporary tattoos, etc. Meanwhile parents of children with severe food allergies can provide safe sweet treats at home. For homes who choose to participate, they have printable posters on their website (“Non-food treats available here!” for example), a list of non-food treat ideas, Q&A and education materials.
Growing up, I don’t remember my peers at school having severe food allergies (specifically, the now common peanut allergy). We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at school, and never gave a though to what was inside our Kudo’s bar. It wasn’t necessary for food manufacturers and restaurants to declare “this was made in a facility that may have traces of peanuts…”. Now kids seem to be dealing with not only peanut allergies, but latex and wheat allergies as well. Why are so many kids required to carry EpiPens in their backpack now? The FARE website outlines facts and statistics about the rapid rise of food allergies, and what they are doing to find answers.
According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011. — Foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats
Where Halloween is concerned, ultimately it is the parents’ responsibility to manage their child’s trick-or-treating experience. Personally I don’t think we all have to take on the added responsibility of providing small toys and stickers in addition to the traditional candy. But, I do think the Teal Pumpkin Project is a creative concept, and this is a great time of year to raise awareness of the dangers so many kids face these days. Especially when the problem is clearly more widespread than ever before.
Is your household participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project this year? Here are some great non-treat ideas for Halloween!