For adults, it may just be a matter of swerving the platters of spooky-looking food at parties. For children, however, it can be very upsetting when they aren’t able to join in on the fun their friends are having. Unfortunately, Halloween is a very food-centric holiday where kids go from door to door accepting food from people who may not be aware about the dangers of allergies. You can’t always monitor the treats that people hand out.
Teal Pumpkin Project is a movement that has swept the USA in the past couple of years. The project aims to raise awareness while giving children with food allergies the chance to join in on the fun. Participants of the project place a teal coloured pumpkin on their doorstep to communicate with trick-or-treaters that there are non-food treats available at the house. It was initiated by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) in America.
According to Allergy UK, the prevalence of peanut allergies has almost doubled in the past 10 years. Very young children are especially likely to be allergic to some kind of food, meaning that extra attention must be paid when giving food to other people’s children. According to the Food Standards Agency, around two million people in the UK have an allergy to some kind of food. Every year around 10 people in the UK die due to an allergic reaction triggered by an undeclared allergenic ingredient.
It can be very risky to attempt to give any food to a child who has a specific allergy—especially for those who are less aware about the realities of dealing with allergies. Even food that may be marketed as allergen-free may have been cross-contaminated in the manufacturing process. The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to give out non-food items as well as, or instead of, the traditional sweets and chocolate. It keeps Halloween fun and allows everyone join in.
All you need to give out are some small items that children will enjoy—tiny toys, sparkly pens, toy cars—use your imagination! They can be the kind of things you’d expect to find in Christmas crackers.
Paint a pumpkin blue to show people that you’re participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, or simply hang a sign outside your front door. FARE has some great resources you can use to help: https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project/free-resources.
Spread the word! Let your neighbours know what you’re doing before Halloween night so they are aware of the Teal Pumpkin Project, too. At the moment the movement is only just gaining traction in the UK so you may need to do your bit to encourage others to join in.