Curious about the Teal Pumpkin Project? Wondering what it is and how you can get involved? This post will give you the full scoop. Please note this post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization created am ambitious initiative to make Halloween more inclusive to those living with food allergies.
According to FARE, nearly 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies, including 5.9 million children under age 18. The numbers are staggering. When you break it down, it means one in 13 children, or roughly two children in every classroom in the U.S., is managing some sort of food allergy, many which are severe and/or life-threatening.
This food allergy trend is not a passing fad either; it’s only getting worse.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, and between 1997 and 2008, the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergy has more than tripled in U.S. children.
Although any food is capable of causing an allergic reaction, the eight most common allergens in the U.S. are milk, egg, soy, wheat, tree nut, peanut, fish, shellfish and sesame.
On top of that, one in 100 children has celiac disease. Celiac disease is not an allergy; rather it’s an autoimmune disease. That said, people with celiac disease must avoid a protein called gluten, which is found in products containing wheat, barley, rye and spelt. Celiac disease is one of the most common disorders and a lifelong affliction that, unlike some food allergies, children will never outgrow.
About the Teal Pumpkin Project
Halloween is a time for children to have fun while enjoying yummy treats. While the ritual might seem innocent, for the millions of children suffering from food allergies and/or celiac disease, getting candy riddled with nuts and gluten is a nightmare.
As you can imagine, most Halloween candies contain some sort of allergen. An innocent Snickers, Twix or Twizzlers can wreak havoc in children with food allergies or celiac disease.
That’s where the Teal Pumpkin Project shines. It’s an initiative to make trick-or-treating more accessible and inclusive to all children, regardless of what they can or cannot eat.
When you put a teal pumpkin on your patio, it means you’re offering children with food allergies a non-food treat or allergy-friendly treat.
It means your house is willing and able to accommodate all trick or treaters, and that is a beautiful thing.
How to Participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project?
Here is what you need to do to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project:
(1) Turn Your Pumpkin Teal
You can turn your own pumpkin teal with a little paint (makes for a fun project with the kids), or simply purchase a reusable teal pumpkin for less than $20.
You could also display a Teal Pumpkin sign on your patio or front lawn.
It’s okay to have both an orange pumpkin and teal pumpkin. This just signals that you have both allergy-friendly and regular Halloween treats to hand out.
(2) Stock Up on Treats
Next, you’ll want to stock up on non-food treats for Halloween, such as stickers, glow sticks, finger lights, mini squishies, etc. You can purchase bulk packs of non-food treats on Amazon or even at Target or the Dollar Store.
Be sure to avoid things like Play Doh or other items that are not edible but still contain allergies (Play Doh contains wheat).
While the Teal Pumpkin Project recommends you to have non-food treats to hand out on Halloween night, I also like to stock up on allergy-friendly candies, too. Two companies make this possible, Free2Be Foods and Enjoy Life.
Free2b foods makes candies free from 12 common allergens and its products are vegan as well. You can purchase a Bag O’ Treats from Free2b to hand out on Halloween (although this year they are already sold out). If you plan ahead for next year, you can get the Bag O’ Treats variety pack bag, which includes 30 individually wrapped chocolate suncups.
Enjoy Life Foods also makes allergy-safe candies that are free from gluten and 14 common allergens. You can purchase a variety pack of allergy-safe chocolates by Enjoy Life on Amazon or on the Enjoy Life website.
If you want to offer regular and allergy-friendly treats, keep the two types of treats in separate containers (i.e. do not mingle them or have the allergy friendly treats touch the regular candies). When a trick-or-treater stops by, you can offer them the regular candy or a non-food or allergy-friendly treat.
(3) Take the Pledge
Once you have committed to participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, sign the pledge on the FARE website. When you do, you’ll get this certificate that you can display on your door.
(4) Get Ready for Trick-or-Treaters!
You’re all set and ready for trick-or-treaters this year. Pat yourself on the back for being the most inclusive household on the block!
Halloween Candy Guide: Read my Gluten-Free Halloween Candy Guide to make sure you fully avoid gluten this Halloween!
Label Reading 101: Learn everything you need to know about gluten-free labeling laws.