Are your kids counting down the days till the candy filled insanity of Halloween like mine are? While you are putting the finishing touches on the costumes and stocking up on candy to give out, keep in mind there are parents who are literally terrified of Halloween, and for a good reason. There are 15 million Americans living with food allergies, and for some these allergies are very serious, even life threatening. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. According to FARE, hat’s around two in every classroom. The number of people who have a food allergy is growing, but there is no clear answer as to why, and every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department – that is more than 200,000 emergency department visits per year. A reaction to food can range from a mild response (such as an itchy mouth) to anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially deadly reaction.
Imagine now being a parent of a child with one of these allergies. Your child just wants to go out and have fun on Halloween just like their friends, but there are literally thousands of potentially dangerous food and candy items that could cause a reaction.
Now imagine being one of the kids affected by a food allergy. We all know how hard it can be growing up and wanting to fit in, and with Halloween as one of the biggest yearly events kids look forward to, not being able to take part the way everyone else does is tough. That's where the Teal Pumpkin Project™ comes in.
Launched as a national campaign by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project™ raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. Last year, households from 50 states and 7 countries participated in the Teal Pumpkin Project™. This year, you can be part of an even bigger movement by joining 100,000 households pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project™ by taking the pledge and providing safe treats to make sure everyone is included in the fun of Halloween.
Taking part is simple, and you can still pass out candy. The point of the Teal Pumpkin Project™ is to make trick-or-treating as inclusive as possible, you can keep the experience safe by keeping your food treats and non-food treats in separate bowls.
Some ideas for non-food treats?
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Finger puppets or novelty toys
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
Those are just a few ideas of what you can offer, to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project™ and how we can keep all of the kids in our communities safe this Halloween, click right here.
Now, before I finish up this piece, I want to add one little thing. I've often heard parents say "My child shouldn't have to avoid (this or that, etc.) because someone else's child has a food allergy", and, quite frankly, that's a gross attitude to take. Is a peanut butter sandwich for your kid more important than the safety of another? As a parent, shouldn't we want all of our children, collectively, to be safe? If your child really LOVES a certain kind of candy or food that has a potential allergen, have them enjoy it at home! Go crazy! Get a whole bag and let them savor it. But when it comes to Halloween in your own little neighborhood, the right thing to do is to try to make everyone feel safe. So this year, put out something for everyone. xoxo