Teal pumpkins are popping up all over this Halloween, which is great news for kids with food allergies.
The pumpkins are part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, which was created by Food Allergy Research & Education(FARE) and launched in 2014. They report that households in all 50 states and 14 countries participated last year by displaying a teal pumpkin in front of their homes and offering non-food treats and toys instead of candy so that kids with food allergies could still take part in trick or treating.
FARE reports that food allergies now affect one in 13 children in the United States, some of which can be life threatening. Traditionally, families of kids with food allergies were forced to either skip trick or treating at Halloween or risk accidentally exposing their children to dangerous allergens. Through the Teal Pumpkin Project, these families can now trick or treat safely.
It’s easy to take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project. Participants are simply asked to provide non-food treats for trick or treaters and place a teal pumpkin in front of the house to show that non-food treats are available. They then display a free printable sign to explain the meaning of the teal pumpkin.
Michaels Stores are also making it easier to take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project. The Michaels Blog is partnering with FARE to raise awareness.
“When you place a teal pumpkin at your doorstep, it indicates that you are handing out non-food treats as an option for little ghouls and goblins. You can paint your own pumpkins or pick up a teal craft pumpkin from Michaels that you can use year after year.”
Michaels stores are also offering toys and non-food treats for participants in the Teal Pumpkin Project. They offer ample inexpensive Halloween favors such as packs of decorated pencils, miniature stamps, eyeball rings and shaped erasers. The craft store also offers foam teal pumpkins for sale to display in front of homes.
Stuck on what to offer as treats as an alternative to candy? FARE has a list of inexpensive toys and non-candy treats to offer instead of candy. These include glow items like glow sticks and bracelets, art supplies like crayons and markers, small toys like miniature slinkies and bouncy balls and novelty items like vampire fangs, in addition to well-loved treats like playing cards, stickers and more.
FARE points out that some non-food treats can still pose allergy risks. Some brands of moldable clay contain wheat, for instance, and some children are allergic to latex.
Some households will also be handing out books this Halloween. Books for Treats is a non-profit movement that encourages giving gently read children’s books at Halloween instead of candy.
“Books feed children’s minds, while candy only feeds their cavities. Books encourage children to read, and parents to read with them and/or ask them about their books. Many children rarely receive books as gifts, so even gently read books are special treats.”
They point out that books can be purchased cheaply at a variety of places, including library sales and garage sales. The organization has even partnered with Scholastic to offer participants to buy books at a deep discount.
Parents who have taken part in this project report that books are surprisingly well-received by children.
“I escorted five fourth grade boys trick-or-treating and they were thrilled the most about receiving a Books For Treats book,” said one parent.
One participant in the program added, “They were leaving here, waving their books and running to their mothers, saying, ‘I got a book. I got a book!’ It’s not a trick. It’s a treat.”
You can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project and still offer candy in addition to toys, books and other alternatives, of course. FARE is quick to point out that you do not have to give up giving out candy to trick-or-treaters to take part in the project. Simply let families know that they have a choice of candy or non-food treats for children with allergies. That way, Halloween can be enjoyed by all.
[Featured Image by xanderfriendlyfoods/Instagram]