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Halloween is quickly approaching! With the chaos and upheaval associated with living through a global pandemic, we could all benefit from a little celebrating and joy. As with every holiday, Halloween will probably look different this year for you and your family. 

Halloween typically involves spooky costumes, scary movies (if that’s what you enjoy), and plenty of candy from trick-or-treating. However, not all kids are able to trick-or-treat safely due to food allergies.

Food Allergies in the U.S.

The CDC states that 8% of kids or 1 out of 13 children in the U.S. have food allergies. Reactions can vary from mild symptoms to a severe life-threatening response when an individual  accidentally consumes a food that they are allergic to. The only way to effectively manage food allergies is to avoid any foods that generate the allergic reaction. 

In the U.S., there are eight foods that are considered top allergens and required to be listed on food labels:

  1. Milk
  2. Eggs
  3. Fish
  4. Crustacean shellfish
  5. Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

These allergens are used as ingredients in many of the typical Halloween treats handed out to children trick-or-treating. Children with food allergies aren’t able to enjoy the same experience that many children have while trick-or-treating. Their trick-or-treat bag, pumpkin, or pillow case will have far fewer spoils than those without allergies.

Here are some ways that you can make Halloween more inclusive and enjoyable for those with food allergies! 

The Teal Pumpkin Project

The Teal Pumpkin Project focuses on “raising awareness and offering the option of non-food trinkets and toys in a separate bowl [that] makes Halloween safer and more inclusive for all trick-or-treaters.” Teal is the color that’s used to raise awareness of food allergies. On their website, there is an option to take a pledge to communicate that you offer safe alternatives for all children.

To show support and alert neighbors of an allergy-friendly house, place a teal pumpkin or a sign displaying a teal pumpkin outside of your house. Teal pumpkins can be ordered online at a variety of different retailers, or you can paint your own. The items handed out to trick-or-treaters can be stored in a teal bowl or pumpkin as well.

What Do I Hand Out for Teal Pumpkins?

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project involves handing out non-food items to trick-or-treaters. This requires you to think outside of the box to determine what kids will actually want, but the process is easier than it seems. 

If you enjoy shopping in-person, wander the aisles in Walmart, Target, or dollar stores for holiday-themed party gifts. These items can be found online from a variety of retailers. 

Here are some examples of items to include in a teal pumpkin:

Glow sticks or glow necklaces

Stickers

Temporary tattoos

Coloring supplies

Notebooks or puzzle books

Bubbles

This is not an exhaustive list, and the possibilities are endless! Use your creativity to come up with an age-appropriate item to hand out. 

Sharing Teal Pumpkin Project Awareness

In addition to putting a teal pumpkin or a Teal Pumpkin Project yard flag outside of your house before Halloween, it’s important to communicate that you have safe trick-or-treat options for kids. Share your Teal Pumpkin status on the neighborhood website or the Nextdoor app. Post pictures of your teal-decorated house on your social media platforms with the hashtag #TealPumpkinProject.

Allergy-Friendly Candy

So, what if you or your child has food allergies and you still want to enjoy some Halloween candy? Allergy awareness has dramatically improved, with many companies making allergy-safe food. Enjoy Life Foods offers candy, snacks, and baking items that are free of the top 14 common allergens.

Enjoy Life Foods has seasonal Halloween candy that may suit the allergy needs of the individual in your life. Check the labels prior to purchasing and be sure to and order in advance, as these are an especially popular solution for those with food allergies during the holidays.

Make a Difference

There is no need to completely forgo offering traditional candy for other children. Keep the candy in a bowl or pumpkin that’s separated from the allergy-friendly alternatives. 

Make this Halloween  the first of many holidays where you offer alternative treats for children with food allergies. This small step makes all the difference in creating a joyful Halloween that is fully inclusive of young children with food allergies. 

Have you participated in #TealPumpkinProject before? Are you planning to participate this year? What items are you planning to hand out this year?

Share your ideas, pictures, and comments below!

Until next time…

Nurse Splane

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