Teal Pumpkin Project makes Halloween safer for kids with allergies
For these tiny trick-or-treaters, one bite of a candy bar with nuts or a nibble of a cookie made with eggs can cause a serious allergic reaction that could send them to the hospital.
The Teal Pumpkin Project was created to help kids with allergies participate in the typical Halloween festivities like trick-or-treating while still being safe. The project started a few years ago when Becky Basalone, the mother of children with food allergies, placed a teal pumpkin on her porch and passed out non-food items along with candy. Her idea caught on in her Tennessee town and quickly spread. In 2014, individuals in all 50 states participated. This year, organizers hope that 100,000 people will take the “Teal Pumpkin Project Pledge,” which asks participants to have non-food items available for trick-or-treaters, and place a teal pumpkin in their window.
One in 13 kids have a food allergy, and many of the most common allergens such as nuts, soy, eggs, gluten and dairy are found in candy. This means that parents and kids have to pay special attention to the labels on candy bars to make sure they are safe to eat. Besides reading labels, Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) also encourages parents of children with food allergies to develop an emergency plan specifically for Halloween with the help of an allergist.
“It’s so important for parents of children who have food allergies to make sure that the candy their kids eat do not contain ingredients which they are allergic to,” says Dr. Dipul Patadia, emergency medicine physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “By doing this, parents can help their children avoid an allergic reaction which could result in a trip to the emergency department.”
Anyone can participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. All you need to do is:
- Paint a pumpkin teal (the color of food allergy awareness), and place it outside your home.
- Purchase non-food items and candy to pass out to trick-or-treaters.
- Print out the Teal Pumpkin Project poster, and put it outside your home.
- Keep your bowl of non-food treats separate from any candy to ensure that the non-food items stay safe.
- Pass out treat to the trick-or-treaters!
For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project and to access resources for planning an allergy-friendly Halloween, visit the FARE website.
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