Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: Treats are Tricky for Some: Teal Pumpkins for a Safer Halloween

Treats are Tricky for Some: Teal Pumpkins for a Safer Halloween

Recruitment Specialist

Halloween is my favorite holiday. I feel like everyone I know has heard my rationale that it's "one giant costume party and everyone's invited." However, for the parents of children with restrictive diets, the holiday can be a real nightmare for reasons entirely separate from the monsters.

Eight percent of children in the United States have known and reported food allergies, which is about 6 million of the little Darth Vaders and Princess Elsas running around this year. These reactions send a person to the emergency room every 3 minutes. Ninety percent of these food allergies are comprised of eight foods: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. Now, I seriously hope that the latter two are not going to cause much grief in your candy-distributing plans, but the majority of Halloween candies contain some of the aforementioned ingredients. So, it turns out that not everyone--one in every 13 kiddos to be exact--is invited to share in the joy of my World's Largest Costume Party…yet.

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project! Sponsored by FARE ( Food Allergy Research & Education), the Teal Pumpkin Project's premise is very simple: "Create a safer, happier Halloween for all" by letting children with food allergies partake in all the fun of trick-or-treating without fear of being left out or risking a life-threatening allergic reaction. To signal that a house is providing a safe alternative for children and their parents, the occupants can set-out a teal-painted pumpkin (the color for food allergy awareness) or download a printable FARE sign for the front door .

Teal Pumpkins

However, several upstanding individuals in comment sections across the Worldwide [Spider] Web (it's Halloween; let me have my poor attempts at puns) seem to have a different outlook on the campaign. Why is it our job to cater to these few kids? Isn't monitoring what their children eat the parents' job? This "dietary restriction" thing is getting out of hand! Who really has a "gluten allergy?" Why should we ruin Halloween for the majority of kids who can eat a Snickers bar?

No one is telling you to not pass out candy. In fact, no one is telling you to really do anything; parents of children who can't eat everything their friends do are merely saying it would beawesomeif you had a couple non-food options tucked away. There are tons of alternatives, which can bring a huge smile to a little boy or girl's face who may otherwise have to put down the light saber to brandish an epinephrine auto-injector all night. For example, when I would go trick-or-treating back in the day, the neighborhood dentist gave out toothbrushes and the Fire Rescue team sat at busy corners passing out safety glow necklaces, which were everyone's favorite.

According to a report released by the CDC, the prevalence of food allergies is only going to continue to increase. The Teal Pumpkin Project is a small step to include all children in the best night of the year. If you would like to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, here are a few non-edible ideas that won't break the bank:

  • Glow sticks (which are also a great idea for safety!)
  • Spooky-themed pencils or erasers
  • Sticky hands
  • Bubbles (or witches' brew!)
  • Stickers or temporary tattoos (for all the pirates and bikers roaming the streets)
  • Spider rings and other plastic jewelry
  • Bouncy balls (especially those that look like jack-o-lanterns)
  • Bookmarks
  • Silly jokes (What is a ghost's favorite dessert?  I SCREAM!)
  • Coloring books
  • Mini water bottles (not exactly themed, but you have to stay hydrated!)
  • Play-Dough

Plus, aren't teal pumpkins just super cute?


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