Opinion

Teal Pumpkin Project: Making Halloween fun for kids with allergies

This Halloween, the Teal Pumpkin Project wants families to provide an alternative to sugary candy for kids with allergies.

Halloween-candy-allergies

Photo: iStockphoto

Halloween is a truly scary event for parents whose kids have life-threatening food allergies.

However, nuts aren’t the only frightening food item out there—kids who are allergic to milk, soy, wheat and eggs may also have to give up their treats because of health concerns.

This is why Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization has launched the Teal Pumpkin Project. The idea is simple: Paint a pumpkin teal (OK, the whole finding teal paint part may not be so easy) and have an alternative bowl of non-food items—such as small toys, glow sticks or stickers—for those who just can’t risk a bite of candy.

Read more: School bans eggs, dairy and nuts due to one student’s allergies>

FARE states that the initiative is about keeping Halloween fun for everyone, including those who have allergies. A printable sign to post with your pumpkin and other resources are available on the FARE website. This is the initiative’s first year, but the organization hopes that it will become an annual tradition.

It’s such a simple idea and a good way to include those with allergies who may find Halloween a little daunting. For many kids with allergies, trick-or-treating is only about dressing up and going door-to-door, because they know they have to give away most of their candy at the end of the night. Wouldn’t it be nice for them to have something to enjoy as well?

I’m still shocked at how many nut products are in the mini-chocolate bar collections. In some of the selections, 75 percent of the choices have peanuts in them. Some companies offer nut-free chocolate bars, but I keep buying the boxes of potato chips (my personal weakness) and bags of gummies (my husband’s favourite) and stay away from the chocolate all together. (OK, maybe a bag of Mars bars sneaks its way in, but those rarely hit the candy bowl.)

Read more: 8 most common allergies>

Some interpretations of the Teal Pumpkin Project have suggested offering nut-free candy, although I think this is about more than just nut allergies. It is about ensuring all kids can have a treat, no matter what they are allergic to. (But nut-free candy is a good start.)

This year I will grab some glow sticks and erasers and some green and blue paint to make my own little teal pumpkin project. We may be the first people on our block, but I like to be a trendsetter.

Read more: Halloween: 10 alternatives to sugary treats>

Emma Waverman is a writer, blogger and mom to three kids. She has many opinions, some of them are fit to print. Read more of her articles here and follow her on Twitter @emmawaverman.