This Halloween, when you’re out trick-or-treating with your kids, you’ll likely see plenty of pumpkins—from traditional carved jack-o’-lanterns to colorful painted pumpkins. Most of these pumpkins have no special significance beyond tradition.
But if you see a pumpkin that’s been painted teal, take note, because there is an important message behind that pumpkin! A house with a teal pumpkin means that there are non-food treats available for trick-or-treaters. It’s part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, a campaign by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) intended to make Halloween safe for kids with food allergies. Because for kids with severe food allergies, it’s not spooky costumes and haunted houses that make Halloween scary, it’s the traditional treats like candy and chocolate that may trigger a life-threatening allergic reaction because such treats may include ingredients that kids are allergic to.
In an effort to make Halloween safe and fun for everyone, the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages families to purchase small toys and other non-food items and place a teal-painted pumpkin outside to let trick-or-treaters know these treats are available. This way, kids still get to participate in the fun of Halloween with family and friends without fear of getting candy that may cause a reaction.
How to Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project on Halloween
It’s easy to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Simply follow the steps suggested by FARE. First, purchase some non-food items as options for your little trick-or-treaters such as glow sticks, spider rings or Halloween pencil toppers. Then paint or buy a teal pumpkin—the official color of food allergy awareness—and place it outside. You can also download a free printable sign from FARE to let neighbors and trick-or-treaters know what your teal pumpkin means. And if you’d still like to give out candy, you certainly can! Just remember to place your food and non-food treats in separate bowls. You can ask trick-or-treaters if they have food allergies, or give kids a choice of a toy treat or candy.
Other Ways to Participate
Get your neighbors involved by “booing” them! Download and print a “We’ve been Teal Pumpkin Boo’ed!” sign along with the fun explanatory poem from the FARE site and leave it for your neighbor. This fun and secret activity will help bring awareness to the campaign.
Get the kids involved with free resources. Print out these free stencils, coloring sheets, masks, and other activities to teach kids about food allergies and enjoy the fun of Halloween in the process.
Host a neighborhood party. The FARE website offers a variety of resources to help you host a fun Teal Pumpkin party, including a pumpkin painting party. Guests can bring their own pumpkins or you can provide the pumpkins and the paint.
A Year-Round Problem
Kids with life-threatening allergies must worry every single day about avoiding exposure to allergens. For these families, it’s not just Halloween when kids are in danger. Many kids have found that even school is an unsafe place for them.
Like 12-year-old Angelica, who is enrolled in online school through K12 due to her allergies. She explains, “peanuts send me into a life-threatening state called anaphylactic shock. Schools are full of peanut butter snacks. Teachers hand out peanut butter cups at class functions. There was no safe haven for me anywhere in [my] traditional school.”
But it isn’t just peanuts that cause problems. One mom, Jennifer, shared that her 1st grader, Anthony, is severely allergic to a variety of foods, including eggs, milk, peanut, pork, beef, and lamb. Her son’s food allergies were so severe and so numerous, in fact, that the school administrators were not sure if they could accommodate all of his needs and ensure his safety. She decided it would be best to enroll Anthony in an online private school program, where he thrived academically and, most importantly, he’s safe.
Does your child have a food allergy? Will you be participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project? Leave us a comment and tell us your thoughts on this campaign.