Teal pumpkins for allergy-safe trick-or-treating

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Ben Zentner, Staff Writer

 

“Aren’t pumpkins orange?” Usually, yes. But not this year.

This Halloween, Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE) hopes to make blue rinds the new trend among holiday squash. FARE, a non-profit organization specializing in food allergy awareness, designed the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to ensure that all children get rewarding loot while Trick-or-Treating this year.

The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages home owners to place a teal-colored pumpkin outside their homes on Halloween to signal to families with children who have food allergies that this house is a safe place for their little monsters to Trick-or-Treat. FARE reports that “food allergies are a serious problem in the U.S., affecting up to 15 million people in the US and as many as one in 13 children.”

Many candies collected on Halloween contain nuts, one of the most common food allergies. In a seemingly radical proposal, the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages handing out non-food items to Trick-or-Treaters. The organization provides some examples of fun alternatives to candy. Glowing bracelets or necklaces, bubbles, whistles, bouncy balls, spider rings, vampire teeth, playing cards and stickers are a few suggestions.

Although it may seem a small thing to provide an alternative for food-sensitive families, Forbes points out that “allergic reactions from foods can lead to skin rashes, difficulty breathing, and nausea,” any of which could quickly put a damper on a child’s Halloween festivities.

According to a Harris poll of 2,500 Americans, Halloween is America’s third favorite holiday – and that’s among adults! Halloween almost surely replaces Thanksgiving in the second place spot for children under eighteen and for good reason! Halloween is full of fun and prizes. It would be a shame for one of America’s favorite holidays to be ruined for a child by an unchecked food allergy.

Imagine having to set aside half of your candy after a long night of Trick-or-Treating because you couldn’t eat it without getting hives. Or being constantly disappointed when the nice lady gives you a Reese’s because you know you won’t be able to eat it. The Teal Pumpkin Project aims to help “promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all,” according to FARE’s website.

As college students, it’s safe to say that at least most of us won’t be handing out pieces of candy on Halloween this year. But for those who might, consider a safer, more inclusive alternative. And spread the word to your families back home about the Teal Pumpkin Project. Their participation could make Halloween more rewarding and enjoyable for kids with allergies in your neighborhood.

As an avid sugar fan, I don’t mean to suggest that we should phase out candy entirely. But at the very least, having a second bowl of miscellaneous non-food prizes available for children to enjoy can make Halloween a lot more fun for the food-sensitive kids and a lot less stressful for their parents. Who knows, maybe given the option even kids without allergies would prefer a prize like a glow stick. That sounds pretty cool to me!