Teal Pumpkin Project Signals Safety for Food-Sensitive Kids


Halloween is not every child’s or parent’s favorite holiday. For kids with peanut allergies, who are gluten or lactose intolerant, or who have other allergies or diseases, Halloween can bring trouble. Rachel Lau of the Global News writes that there is an option now, created by the nonprofit Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) being used by hundreds of thousands of families in seven different countries that helps food-sensitive kids get the most out of Halloween.

It’s called the Teal Pumpkin Project, and it provides a way for kids who have to follow a special diet to still have a ghostly good time without all the candy and cupcakes. Everyone can get involved by painting a pumpkin teal and putting it on your front step, with the pumpkin serving as a sign for trick-or-treaters that your family is giving out non-food items instead of, or in addition to, traditional candy.

Treats can be in the form of bookmarks, crayons, or small toys – be creative! For those who would like to join in on the campaign, they can take an online pledge. It’s fun, parents can stop worrying, and all little ones can enjoy the spooky night.

One in 12 children is born with a food allergy, according to End Allergies Together (EAT). Every year there are 90,000 cases of anaphylaxis, and every three minutes a person is taken to the emergency room because of a reaction to food.  And it’s not always eating the food that causes the reaction; sometimes anaphylaxis can occur when a child just comes in contact with the allergen, says Robin Shreeves for Mother Nature Network.

Sun Cups, manufacturers of a nut- and gluten-free treat, has some tips for parents with children with food allergies. Yes, it takes a bit of preparation, but keeping your children safe is certainly worth it.

The ideas include: taking safe treats to family, friends, and neighbors; rewarding your child with a special present in exchange for the bag of candy he collects; checking ingredients, if possible; carrying emergency medicines with you while trick-or-treating; and planning alternate activities, such as a movie, or a scavenger hunt.

Sarah Piccirillo, who lives in Williamsville, NY, has children with food allergies, and now she is the local project organizer for the Teal Pumpkin Project.

“We have stickers, notebooks, pencils, erasers, spider rings, glow bracelets. All sorts of the fun things that they love,” said Piccirillo.

She used social media to get the word out and to get more families involved.

“We compiled a map where families can register their address if they’re participating, and then we put all those addresses together on a map so Trick-or-Treaters can use that to plan their route so they can get to the houses that have the non-food items available for them,” Piccirillo told News 4.

Jenn Schanz, reporting for WIVB-TV, was told by a parent that not only the food can be a problem, but products that may have been processed in the same facility. The parent added that their son does not have to feel left out when his sister goes out trick-or-treating.

10 19, 2015
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