The Teal Pumpkin Project

Halloween is a dream holiday for kids, but for parents of children with food allergies it can be a nightmare. Chocolate, dairy, nuts and so many other treats can be deadly for kids who suffer from severe allergies. It’s why one Halloween project is hoping to help keep children safe and put parents’ fears at ease.

An estimated 1 in 13 children has food allergies, and parents are getting used to keeping their needs in mind. And it’s not just kids with allergies who benefit when food-free treats are available. So do kids with diabetes and those with gluten sensitivities and/or other food intolerances. An extra bonus: When offered non-food treats at Halloween and other occasions, kids without any such issues also might consume less sugar.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is making an effort to bring awareness to food allergies, while also allowing children to participate in the joy of trick-or- treating.

teal pumpkin project posters and 2 teal pumpkins on front porch

What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

A relatively new international initiative dedicated to making Halloween safe and fun for all kids, the Teal Pumpkin Project is the brainchild of Becky Basalone, the mother of a child whose severe food allergies made navigating the Halloween landscape a literal minefield.

To enable her son and his big brother to participate in the fun of Halloween, Basalone swapped the candy bowl for a treat bucket, handing out small toys and other non-edibles as well as allergy information cards. To alert other families in her Tennessee neighborhood that it was a safe place for kids with allergies to stop, she painted one of the family’s pumpkins teal — the color of allergy awareness.

Her efforts came to the attention of the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), a non-profit advocacy group, in 2014. The Teal Pumpkin Project promotes safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies. This movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, and keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!

Last year, households from 7 countries participated in the project. This year, the movement is expected to grow exponentially. Families are encouraged to place a teal-coloured pumpkin in front of their home to show they have non-food treats available for children with food allergies and other kids for whom candy is not an option. Its aim is to create a safer and happier Halloween for all!

How can you participate?

Here are some fun ways you can participate:

  • Paint your pumpkin teal and display it outside your home.
  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters (stickers, glow sticks, playing cards etc.).
  • Download and display a free printable poster/sign in your window (See FoodAllergyCanada website for poster downloads).
  • Tell your families and friends and ask them to join the campaign.
  • If you choose to give out candy, too, put it in a separate bowl. Offer both options to all trick-or-treaters — and do not be surprised if children with no food restrictions take some of the non-food items, previous participants have said.

This Halloween, when you see a teal-painted pumpkin, you’ll know it belongs to a parent who supports kids with food allergies, plus other children for whom candy is not an option.

Source: Food Allergy Canada