Don't be surprised if you stumble uponÂ tealÂ pumpkinsÂ whileÂ trick or treating thisÂ yearâit's the new, very cool way that people are showing that theirÂ home is safe for kids with food allergies. DubbedÂ The Teal Pumpkin Project, the idea is to display a paintedÂ greenish-blueÂ pumpkinÂ as a way to tell the worldÂ thatÂ you are handing out non-food treats instead of (or in addition to) candy.
To take part, just doÂ this DIY project: Paint aÂ pumpkin teal,Â set it outside your door, and offer fun little goodiesÂ (Oriental Trading Company and Amazon areÂ great sourcesÂ for kid favoritesÂ like glow bracelets, playing cards, spider rings, and crayons). You can also show that you're there for kids withÂ allergiesÂ by hangingÂ this printable sign from the non-profit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) on your front door.
As a mom of a 7-year-oldÂ with severe tree nut and peanut allergies, I can tell you that candy-centric holidays like Halloween (and Easter...and Valentine's Day, oy) are a nightmare for familiesÂ with food allergies. You wouldn't believe how few mainstream candy makers produce chocolate in a nut-free facility (it's my big pet peeve), despite the fact thatÂ one in 13 childrenÂ suffers from food allergies and,Â according to a 2013Â Centers for Disease Control study, food allergies haveÂ increased 50% between 1997 and 2011. EvenÂ stars like Julie Bowen have spoken out about the challenges of raising a food-allergic child.
On Halloween night, I always end up pulling out all the fun candy from my son, Gus's, bag...while worryingÂ that I've missed a piece that could harm him. Forget if your kid has aÂ soy allergy, another of the 8 most common food allergens; it's in virtually every processed chocolate product.
I so wish this great program had been around forÂ our past Halloweens. But it's here now, andÂ I plan onÂ doing it up. Won't you join me?