The Teal Pumpkin Project
The Magic of Childhood
Halloween is nothing short of magical in the eyes of a child. Carving pumpkins, spooky decorations, dressing up in your favorite costume, and going around the neighborhood collecting candy!? Is this even real life? With a bag heavily laden with candy and exhausted little legs, you beg for just a few more minutes before bedtime and spend it sorting through your candy like a pirate surveying their treasure. This is the Halloween that I remember, and the one that I long to give to my children. There’s a little problem though, because my kids have food allergies.
With a daughter who is allergic to peanuts, a son allergic to eggs, Halloween has changed dramatically. Now, Halloween is terrifying. Simply sticking their little fingers into someone else’s candy bowl could send us to the emergency room, or worse. You might say that I am missing the simple solution to this problem. That if we don’t go trick-or-treating the problem is solved. It’s easy, you might say. On the surface that is the easiest, safest solution, however I beg you to see it through the eyes of a child.
My kids LOVE Halloween, arguably more than most kids. They request Halloween books, dress up in their costumes, and ask “is it Halloween yet?” all year long. Not participating in Halloween activities would devastate them. I am determined to help them live their lives to the fullest, despite the challenges that food allergies bring. This is why I need your help.
One of my goals as a parent is to teach my kindness and compassion. To show them the light in a world that often seems so dark and to teach them how to light the lives of others. This Halloween, I am asking you to be that light. To be the modern day village that supports my kids and the 1 in 13 children in America who have food allergies too. I’m asking you to maintain your current Halloween traditions, and to add another one too. In return, I promise to raise my children to show kindness and compassion to others. I promise to provide them with a foundation of values that will help them to positively impact the world. Your help will not go unnoticed, instead it will provide a concrete example of what kindness looks and feels like. Best of all, adding this new tradition is super easy too!
The Teal Pumpkin Project - How it works
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a super easy way to support inclusion for all trick-or-treaters. By printing off a free sign from F.A.R.E.’s website and offering non-food items along with your usual Halloween treats, you can make Halloween safe and fun for kids with food allergies, dietary restrictions, and special needs. Items like glow sticks, spider rings, and skeleton stickers are just a few of the super affordable items that you can have available for trick-or-treaters who are unable to enjoy your candy selection. A couple dollars and one trip through the Target dollar spot is all you need to include ALL kids in the Halloween fun. Since cross contamination is a serious danger for kids with food allergies, these non-food items should be kept separate from your candy. Whether you put it in a separate container that you have on hand, or purchase one of these awesome teal pumpkin buckets to reuse each year, parents like me will be forever grateful for you.
Another really awesome and important step is to register your home on the Teal Pumpkin Project Map. This is a really cool resource for people with food allergies, because it allows them to easily locate safe places to trick-or-treat in their area. Without this it would be impossible to know which houses are safe and which houses are not. Since Teal Pumpkin Project participation is often pretty spread out, this allows families like mine to easily locate safe places to trick-or-treat.
See how easy it is to help kids with food allergies trick-or-treat safely? Print off a poster, buy a few spooky trinkets, and register your house online. Families like mine will forever be grateful! For more food allergy resources visit F.A.R.E.’s website. Another great resource is Snack Safely, a place where you can find an annual guide to Top 8 Allergen Free Halloween Candy. This is especially great for helping families with grade schoolers as they accommodate allergies within their child’s classroom. Still have questions about the Teal Pumpkin Project? Leave me a comment and I’m happy to help!