This post about the Teal Pumpkin Project contains affiliate links and includes sponsored content.
The Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization has put together an amazing 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 allergy 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 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. Due to its large prevalence, celiac disease is one of the most common disorders and a lifelong affliction that, unlike some food allergies, children will never outgrow.
The New & Inclusive Halloween Is Here
Halloween is a time for children to have fun while enjoying yummy treats. While the ritual might seem fun and innocent, for these 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.
Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project
Thanks goodness for the Teal Pumpkin Project, 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 – see below).
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 super fun project with the kids), or simply purchase a reusable official teal pumpkin from Michaels for less than $15. I also have seen unofficial teal pumpkins at other craft stores as well as at Target and Walmart too.
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. And I assure you, they are GOOD!
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. These chocolates will definitely make a child’s Halloween more special!
If you want to offer regular and allergy-friendly treats, keep the 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) Hang a Sign
The Teal Pumpkin Project has made this easy for you to communicate to trick-or-treaters that you offer allergy-friendly treats.
Print this wonderful sign and post it on your door. Children with food allergies who know about the Teal Pumpkin Project will know to look for this sign and ask for non-food or allergy-friendly treats.
There are additional door signs, pumpkin carving templates, sticker printables and yard signs available for print on the FARE website too.
(4) Get Added:
After you’re all set and ready to accommodate children with food allergies, add yourself to this year’s Teal Pumpkin Project map. This allows families looking for safe places to trick-or-treat to find you (yes, families will drive around town seeking out your house just to ensure their children has a fun and safe Halloween!).
I see six households within a few miles of my house already registered as Teal Pumpkin Project participants on this year’s map – hoping to see more pop up soon.
(5) 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. Our children suffering from food allergies appreciate it. Way to go!!