Don't be surprised if you stumble upon teal pumpkins while trick or treating this year—it's the new, very cool way that people are showing that their home is safe for kids with food allergies.

October 23, 2014

Don't be surprised if you stumble upon teal pumpkins while trick or treating this year—it's the new, very cool way that people are showing that their home is safe for kids with food allergies. Dubbed The Teal Pumpkin Project, the idea is to display a painted greenish-blue pumpkin as a way to tell the world that you are handing out non-food treats instead of (or in addition to) candy.

To take part, just do this DIY project: Paint a pumpkin teal, set it outside your door, and offer fun little goodies (Oriental Trading Company and Amazon are great sources for kid favorites like glow bracelets, playing cards, spider rings, and crayons). You can also show that you're there for kids with allergies by hanging this printable sign from the non-profit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) on your front door.

As a mom of a 7-year-old 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 families 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 that one in 13 children suffers from food allergies and, according to a 2013 Centers for Disease Control study, food allergies have increased 50% between 1997 and 2011. Even 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 worrying that I've missed a piece that could harm him. Forget if your kid has a 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 for our past Halloweens. But it's here now, and I plan on doing it up. Won't you join me?

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