Alongside Easter and Christmas, Halloween is the most popular holiday for candy and sweet treats. In fact, Halloween is mostly all about candy. After all, the whole point of dressing up in costumes is to go trick-or-treating in order to collect candy. And while many kids and parents can enjoy the holiday without limits or concerns, there is growing number of children affected by food allergies for whom Halloween has become a bit, well… tricky.
Today, more than 170 foods can cause an allergic reaction with the most popular being peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. Approximately 15 million Americans have some type of a food allergy, including nearly 6 million kids under 18. This translates to about 1 in 13 children, according to the Food Allergy Research & Education website foodallergy.org.
Think about it: 1 in every 13 kids knocking on your door this Halloween has a food allergy.
What once was a rare occurrence is becoming a serious problem. Food allergies in the U.S. have been steadily growing, especially in children. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that in the U.S. peanut and tree nut allergies have more than tripled in children between 1997 and 2008.
What’s really scary is that food allergies can be life threatening. Foodallergy.org reports that every 3 minutes someone with a food allergy reaction ends up in the emergency room and approximately 40% of kids with food allergies have experienced at least one severe allergic reaction.
Alas, there is no known cure for food allergies. The only way for people to avoid a severe allergic reaction is to stay vigilant and avoid the foods they’re allergic to.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
While many of us think of Halloween as a fun, carefree celebration, for kids with food allergies the festivities can be a real hazard. That’s where the Teal Pumpkin Project is hoping to make a difference.
The Teal Pumpkin Project started in 2014 with a goal of raising awareness of food allergies and encouraging people to offer non-food treats to trick-or-treaters with food allergies.
To participate, make sure you have goodies other than candy available for the little ghouls and goblins knocking on your door. Items like stickers, temporary tattoos, crayons, bubbles, bookmarks and small toys work great. Many stores are beginning to sell multi-packs of non-food treats that are Halloween themed, but you can always browse the party supplies aisles for fun items to give away.
Once you have non-food treats in stock, put up a sign or a teal colored pumpkin — or both — in front of your door so that kids with food allergies know that they’ll be able to get a non-edible treat that’s safe for them.
This year, we’re making it easy for you to spread the word with our personalized Teal Pumpkin wooden sign. Add any line of text to be printed on top of the sign to include your family name or simply a happy Halloween message and you can hang your customized sign on your door year after year.
Our simple sign will let everyone know that you home is safe for kids with food allergies, helping spread the word to other kids and families.
Foodallergy.org has additional information and resources, including downloadable signs and flyers, stickers and kid’s activities. Whether you’re going to participate this Halloween or not, you can help spread the word and make this fun holiday safer for kids affected by food allergies.