Seeing Teal Pumpkins? Non-Traditional Halloween Decoration Raises Awareness Of Food Allergies

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Carved, orange pumpkins are the traditional decoration of choice for front porches all over the United States. Recently, however, the festive decoration has been sporting a different color in front of some houses.

Teal pumpkins have become a more common sight on Halloween, USA Today reported. As part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, the greenish-blue decorations are an indication that a house has goodies other than candy to give out to accommodate those with food allergies.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was started in 2014 and is promoted by the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization. According to their website, the project was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. The color teal was appropriately chosen, as it is the color that represents food allergy awareness.

“Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies. Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies,” the Teal Pumpkin project’s website states. “The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect for individuals managing food allergies.”

Families are instructed to display a teal-painted pumpkin in front of their house to show their participation. If they are not able to do so, the project provides a free teal sign that can be hung up to indicate they will be giving out non-food treats. Participants are also encouraged to add their home to a map on the website that allows them to connect with other participating homes in their area.

Some of the non-food treats the project suggests giving out include glow sticks, bubbles, vampire fangs, and bookmarks.

According to the Food Allergy Research and Education website, an estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, 5.9 million of those being children under the age of 18.

“The Teal Pumpkin project really amplifies the message of inclusion and the serious issue of food allergies,” FARE’s senior director of communications Nancy Gregory told NBC Today.

Gregory also told ABC News that the project has always been “overwhelmingly positive” and sees participation growth every year, especially from spreading the word on Facebook, which is where Cheryl Drzal-McCormack found out about the project last year.

“My middle son Aiden has allergies to some foods,” McCormack told ABC. “I thought this was such an amazing idea, especially being a mother of four, and I’d never even thought about doing something like this until I read about it.”

While McCormack’s son had never experienced an allergic reaction, she said she was still grateful the project was available to help other kids.

“I hope that more parents are aware of this and think about the kids that can’t trick-or-treat because they can’t have the candy,” she said.