Imagine going trick-or-treating, but not being able to eat the loot you bring home Halloween night.
That's reality for many kids who battle food allergies, but now Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) and the Teal Pumpkin Project hope to make the holiday more inclusive for kids while raising awareness about food allergies.
“It’s Halloween. Everybody wants to go out,” Amy Engels told InForum. Her son is allergic to almost every nut, so there are few candies he can eat.
“I just want him to have that experience of having fun with all of the other kids and dressing up and not having to worry about what he’s going to get that might hurt him.”
With the Teal Pumpkin Project, the Engels won't have to worry as much on Halloween. The project asks that families who have non-food options available on Halloween put a teal pumpkin (teal is the color of food allergy awareness) outside their homes. This will let trick-or-treaters with food allergies know there are things available for them.
Such non-food items could include: glow bracelets or necklaces, pencils, markers, boxes of crayons, erasers, bubbles, mini Slinkies, whistles or noisemakers, bouncy balls, coins, spider rings, vampire teeth, mini notepads, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers or stencils.
The Teal Pumpkin Project started with the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and has spread across the nation. People are sharing photos of their teal pumpkins and spreading the word on Twitter using the hashtag #tealpumpkinproject.
FARE says it isn't discouraging passing out candy on Halloween, but encouraging people to offer both options, InForum says.
Food allergy facts
Food allergies, which affect 1 in 13 kids in the United States, can be life threatening, WCCO reports.
Nearly 90 percent of all all food-related allergic reactions are from eight foods: peanuts, tree nuts, milk, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish, FARE says.
Food allergies among children is becoming more common, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. From 1997 to 2007, the number of reported food allergies in children under age 18 increased by 18 percent.