Have you heard of the Teal Pumpkin Project?
Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) created the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to keep food allergy kids included during Halloween.
Halloween is scary enough with costumes, corn mazes, and chaos, but for those living with food allergies, it can be even scarier.
For those living with food allergies, the event of trick-or-treating comes with excitement, but also lots of potential disappointment. Between a lack of labels on individually wrapped candies to many candies filled with top allergens, at the end of the night, many options don't end up being safe for food-allergic children.
The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes non-food treats for Halloween so that everyone can walk away happy and included.
How Do You Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project?
It's easy to participate (and it doesn't mean you still can't hand out candy if you want).
The first step to participating is by letting people know! You can add your home to the FARE Teal Pumpkin Map. You can also download free posters to hang up letting trick-or-treaters know you have non-food treats!
Next, you'll need to get your teal pumpkin and non-food treats! This year, FARE has partnered with CVS Pharmacy to bring more awareness to the Teal Pumpkin Project, offering teal pumpkins and non-food treats in a convenient location.
It's important to remember to keep your non-food treats separate from food treats (if you also decide to hand out candy). This way you can avoid cross contact and contamination on the non-food items.
How We Participate
We've been participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project for years. We do also hand out candy, but we make sure to hand out candy that is also free from peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and egg (our allergens).
We have a teal pumpkin for the non-food treats and an orange bucket for our candy.
For non-food treats, there are LOTS of options that are both cost-effective and fun. Party favor toys are a huge hit and you can grab a variety of items. When we have kids birthday parties, we buy favors and any extras go into our teal pumpkin. Our kids also receive lots of stickers, pencils, etc. as rewards, which we also contribute to our teal pumpkin.
The best part about non-food items is that they never spoil! So whatever is left over, you can keep for the following year.
For our candy, we make sure we purchase candy that is safe for our kids. There are also candies that are free from the top 9 allergens, which are great choices to consider and likely the safest for any food-allergic child.
I've put together a quick free resource here explaining the Teal Pumpkin Project with ideas for non-food and candy treats to consider this year.
How We Trick-or-Treat
When it comes to trick-or-treating with our kids who have multiple food allergies, these are the rules we follow:
Because our kids are not contact-reactive, they are allowed to take any candy that is wrapped. They know which candies are typically safe and will opt for those first. They can also choose not to take any if they know they aren't safe.
No eating until we've seen it and hands have been washed! The kids know they are not to eat any candy while we are out trick-or-treating. Once we get home, we'll sort it.
My husband and I will look through and take out anything that is unsafe or questionable.
The kids can then trade any unsafe treats for our safe candy or non-food item. This way they still have the same amount, but now it's all safe.
As we've always told our children, you can participate in anything other children can do, it just may look a little different because of food allergies.
It's important to also remember to handle each situation in a way that's comfortable for you and your family. There's no "right" or "wrong" as we navigate food allergies. It's situational and based on everyone's personal needs and comfort levels.
So, will you add a teal pumpkin to your porch this Halloween?! We hope you consider it to make this special and exciting time for children more inclusive. Don't forget to grab my free resource to make it even easier!