We are joining the Teal Pumpkin Project again this Halloween. Photo by: Alexander Klink
As a mom to a child with profound food allergies, I get a little terrified around the holidays. Halloween is the beginning of a challenging food season for our family. Seasonal treats are everywhere and impossible to ignore.
As a healthy adult who tries to avoid sugar and can’t tolerate wheat, I find it hard to abstain. It’s an issue of willpower for me. But for my son? It’s a matter of life and death, or at minimum, a trip to the ER. The only thing that separates him from a potential life-threatening reaction is a combination of our vigilance and the respect of strangers.
I would like to say my son is part of a small group of children, but he’s not. Food allergies in children have increased exponentially in the last 15 years, and now 1 in 13 children has some form of diagnosed food allergy here in the U.S. Those numbers are only rising.
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Peanut allergies get a lion’s share of the food allergy talk, and for good reason. Some people are so sensitive to peanuts that even a trace of peanut dust can kill them. Costco has stopped serving samples with any kind of nuts in them because they are so concerned about cross contamination in the food packaging facilities and transference by air and touch. Imagine being a parent to a child who might be deathly allergic to what is floating around in the air. That’s pretty terrifying, right?
Unfortunately, peanuts are not the only food that cause deadly reactions in trace amounts. Wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, oats, cinnamon, bananas, peppermint, and many others are just a few that have serious consequences for those who are allergic. My own son is highly allergic to several of those foods and because we want to keep our kids safe while still including them, we are joining the Teal Pumpkin Project again this Halloween.
Here’s how you can join us:
Paint a pumpkin teal and put it on your doorstep with your other pumpkins.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to paint one, you can pick a plastic one up at a craft store. Trick-or-Treaters with food allergies will know they can come to your house and get a safe treat. And believe me, they will!
Offer trick-or-treaters a choice of candy or non-food treats.
Kids with food allergies are often singled out at school and social gatherings and can’t participate fully with the rest of their peers. This unintentionally creates exclusion and shame about a medical condition that they cannot control. Giving children a choice makes it easier for them to be safe during Halloween festivities without the potential hurt.
Treat all of the kids the same.
Don’t single out the kids with food allergies or comment on it if they choose a treat. Play it cool, friends.
Forgo food treats altogether and only offer non-food treats.
This is not necessary, but it’s a great option — especially if you don’t want to deal with all the sugar!
I know some of you amazing, non-allergy allies want to participate but might not know what give out instead of candy. This is a new-ish thing, so I’m putting together a handy little guide to help you navigate your Teal Pumpkin Halloween.
Please feel free to grab this image and share it! Keep it handy and ask questions here or over at FARE. They’re the geniuses behind #tealpumpkinproject and we are so happy to support this awesome movement.
And, don’t worry about getting the color exactly right or painting your pumpkin perfectly. The message is the most important part! Thank you for helping us keep our kids safe this season.