Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Teal Pumpkin

It’s Fall and Halloween and Autumn decorations are on full display.  Scarecrows, hay bales, corn stalks and pumpkins of all shapes, sizes and colors adorn porches and festive front stoops.  Along with the traditional orange pumpkins often used for carving into Jack-O-Laterns, there are white Lumina pumpkins, the two-toned striped Kakai, pale green Jarrahdale, bright orange Rouge vif d’Etampes or ‘Cinderella’ pumpkins, and the silvery orange of Fairytale pumpkins.  You might have even noticed blue pumpkins in displays more often the last several years. 

The Teal Pumpkin Project

These teal pumpkins are more than an eye-pleasing pop of color added to decorations.  Teal pumpkins are the symbol of a nationwide movement.  Teal is the color of food allergy awareness and has been used for the past 20 years to raise awareness of this serious medical condition. The Teal Pumpkin Project aims to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters. The movement offers a Halloween treat alternative for kids and families with food allergies as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, according to the national organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

Food Allergies

Food allergies are a potentially life-threatening disease.  32 million Americans have food allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). For the 1 in 13 children in the U.S. with food allergies, Halloween activities such as trick-or-treating can be a scary time. Even a tiny amount of allergen has the potential to cause a severe reaction in these children.  Eight foods cause most food allergy reactions, according to the AAFA.  These foods are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.  Many popular Halloween candies contain potential allergens such as nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat.  In addition, fun-size or miniature versions of candy items sometimes contain different ingredients than the full-size versions and often the smaller sized candy items do not have labels which makes it difficult for parents to determine if they are safe for those with food allergies.

Candy Alternatives

Homes and businesses displaying teal pumpkins are committed to offering non-food treats providing a safe and fun alternative.  Appropriate non-food treat items to hand out include glow-in-the-dark sticks or bracelets, bubbles, fun erasers or pencil toppers, bouncy balls, bookmarks, stickers, whistles, finger puppets, vampire fangs, and temporary tattoos. Try to choose latex-free items since some children have latex allergies. The goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project is not to exclude candy from Halloween.  According to FARE the goal is ‘simply to ensure that children with food allergies – and other children for whom candy is not an option – are able to enjoy a safer, happier Halloween.’ Participants in the Teal Pumpkin Project can still pass out candy.  If you decide to pass out candy as well as non-food treats make sure to keep food treats and non-food treats in separate bowls. 

Show Your Support

Offering an inclusive Halloween experience with the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.  Simply provide non-food items for treat-or-treaters and place a teal pumpkin in front of your home or business to let others know you have non-food treats available. For the teal pumpkin you can paint a regular pumpkin, purchase one at a local retailer or online, or even print out a free sign from FARE’s website. Then add your address or neighborhood to the Teal Pumpkin Project Map to show your support.