On October 31, most kids will be getting ready for a night of trick-or-treating. After dressing up as a zombie, or a pirate, or a princess, or a favorite character, they’ll walk to neighbor’s doors, navigating mazes of fake skeletons and laughing ghosts, until they knock on their door and a happy middle-aged or elderly couple hands them their prize: a handful of candy. And then, giddy, they’ll do it again. But, at every 13th house or so, the trick-or-treaters will find a very different sight: it won’t be the older couple, but a classmate who is handing out candy in his or her costume because trick-or-treating wasn’t safe.
The Worst Kind of Trick
For the 1-in-13 children who suffer from food allergies, Halloween can be a difficult thing to navigate. Most Halloween candy is too small to print ingredient labels, and different sizes of candy might have different ingredients. If parents allow their kids with allergies to eat candy that might contain an element to which they are allergic, or processed in a facility where other items might have come into contact with an allergen, it could be deadly for their child. But, if they play it safe, then their child misses out on the excitement and creativity that is Halloween. It’s a no-win situation.
A Solution Of An Odd Color
FARE, or Food Allergy Research and Education, has been working on a grassroots solution: the Teal Pumpkin Project. Because teal has long been the color of allergy awareness, participants are asked to place a teal pumpkin (or a sign) announcing their participation in the project. Those participating offer non-food items as an alternative (or alongside) traditional trick-or-treat fare. The idea is to make Halloween inclusive and safe for all children. Parents and children will be able to quickly determine which houses are safe for their child’s allergies, and those offering the treats can feel good that they are giving a child the chance to trick-or-treat safely. FARE has turned a no-win situation into a win-win one.
How Can I Get Involved?
Participation is easy. Just go to foodallergies.org for more information. They have plenty of free resources to download, such as posters and signs or suggestions for non-treat ideas. If you don’t already have a teal pumpkin hanging around, then you can paint one teal with any teal food-safe paint, or you can buy teal pumpkins at many retailers. Of course, spreading the word to your kid’s school and around the neighborhood is helpful as well – any attempts to get the word out will help a child have a happier and healthier Halloween. And there’s no better treat, especially for a child who has not had the chance before.