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The Teal Pumpkin Project: Examining Food Allergies and Halloween

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The fun of trick-or-treating can be replaced by anxiety and disappointment when those children receive treats which are not safe for them to eat.


Halloween is such a fun time for children but for parents the anxiety a food allergy can bring can be stressful. There are many children who have life threatening allergies to foods such as dairy and nuts. The fun of trick-or-treating can be replaced by anxiety and disappointment when those children receive treats which are not safe for them to eat. Even candy that doesn’t obviously have nuts may be unsafe for the severely allergic as most have been produced in factories that have nuts and cannot guarantee there is no cross contamination.

Thankfully, there is the The Teal Pumpkin Project. With this movement, homes put out a teal colored pumpkin on the front step or porch (so it’s easily visible from the street) and a sign showing they have non-food  treats available at their home on Halloween. What a great relief for parents to know that there is a safe option for their child and what fun for the child to know that he or she will actually get to keep the treat they receive at this house.

Fun treats may include stickers, bubbles, rings, glow sticks and bracelets, pencils, erasers, bouncy balls, kazoos, and crayons. Homes can give children a choice between a prize or candy, but be sure to keep the prizes in a separate bowl to prevent any risk of cross contamination.  I have become more aware of the challenges parents and children face when severe food allergies are a part of their lives and the disappointment young kids can experience in food situations.

So, let’s all make an effort to include non-food treats in our Halloween shopping this year. Read more about this wonderful project and print your Teal Pumpkin so your home can keep it fun and safe for all the little super heroes, princesses, ghosts, and goblins that ring your doorbell.

-- By Cindy Love, RN, pediatric nurse practitioner
   IU Health

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