Here’s Why Teal Pumpkins Are The Must-Have Halloween Decoration This Year

For kids with allergies, candy can be the scariest Halloween treat of them all.

From costumes to candy, Halloween has always been one of the most entertaining holidays. However, for children with food allergies, those sweet treats can invoke nightmares far scarier than any monster movie ever could. But, thanks to the Teal Pumpkin Project, Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) continues to raise awareness about food allergies and promote inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.

Launched in 2014, this nationwide campaign encourages adults to provide a non-food alternative to Halloween candy for trick-or-treaters. Participants need only place a teal pumpkin – the color of food allergy awareness – on their front porch to indicate that their treats are safe for everyone. Doing so ensures no child will be excluded from the Halloween festivities simply because of their health concerns.

"Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies," the Teal Pumpkin Project's website states. "Many traditional Halloween treats aren't safe for children with life-threatening food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This worldwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option. It keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!"

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"Halloween is the perfect time to ensure that every child feels included and special," Tonya Winders, president and CEO of the Allergy & Asthma Network, said in an endorsement of the Teal Pumpkin Project. "By participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project you can make this a reality for the 6 million kids living with life threatening food allergies. Allergy & Asthma Network is happy to collaborate so that every block in America has at least one home where if even for a moment, all children feel safe and welcome to trick or treat."

As FARE notes, food allergies are a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease, and a growing public health issue. In the U.S., one out of every 13 children has a food allergy, which amounts to roughly two in every classroom. For these children, even a tiny amount of their allergen has the potential to cause a severe reaction. Thus, while FARE welcomes adults to offer candy in addition to the non-food treats, the organization wants people to do so in a smart, informed fashion. 

For instance, some non-food alternatives, such as some varieties of moldable clay, might contain ingredients that could trigger an allergic reaction. Adults should research the treats they intend to give away to guarantee that their teal pumpkin doesn't end up misleading this vulnerable group.

"Virtually any food can cause a reaction," FARE states. "Many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat, which are some of the most common allergens in children and adults. Additionally, many miniature or fun-size versions of candy items contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts and some miniature candy items may not have labels, so it is difficult for parents to determine whether these items are safe for their child with food allergies."

For those who aren't sure which non-food treats are viable alternatives, FARE offers a comprehensive list:

  • Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
  • Bubbles
  • Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
  • Bouncy balls
  • Finger puppets or novelty toys
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils

Once you've committed to the Teal Pumpkin Project, simply add your address to the official participation map so concerned trick-or-treaters can plot out the safest route this Halloween. Ultimately, non-food treats promote inclusion by providing a safe, fun alternative for children with food allergies and other conditions. Help keep the "all" in Halloween by making sure every trickster has access to the appropriate treats.

Cover image via EvgeniiAnd / Shutterstock

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