Will I be too cold if I don’t wear a jacket? How fast do you think I can go door to door down this street? Who wants my Almond Joy bars?
Will this house have a treat I can actually eat? Does this candy bar have peanuts in it? Do we have a treatment plan in case of an allergic reaction?
For the 1 in 13 kids who suffer from food allergies, it’s not about trading the candy they don’t like; it’s about avoiding the candy that could cause a life threatening reaction. This kind of stress is totally different from what those who don’t suffer from food allergies experience during Halloween. It’s two different worlds, and one seems a lot more fun and inclusive than the other.
For those with food allergies, there is more to worry about than ghosts and goblins. Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) shares that, “Many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat, which are some of the most common allergens in children and adults. Additionally, many miniature or fun-size versions of candy items contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts and some miniature candy items may not have labels, so it is difficult for parents to determine whether these items are safe for their child with food allergies.”
Understanding the burden for kids with food allergies during Halloween, FARE started the Teal Pumpkin Project® in 2014 to make Halloween safe, fun and inclusive for everyone, especially those with food allergies. The project encourages individuals to purchase non-food items to give out to those with allergies when trick or treating. They should put a teal-colored pumpkin, or a print out of a FARE teal pumpkin poster, near their front door to show those with food allergies they are invited to trick or treat safely at their home. The Teal Pumpkin Project has been successful in showing respect and inclusion to those who don’t find trick or treating as “easy.”
Buying non-food items can seem intimidating, but the options are limitless. A few I would have loved as a kid are (keeping in mind that they should be age appropriate to avoid choking or other hazards):
- Stickers or temporary tattoos
- Pencils, markers, erasers
- Glow sticks
For the third year in a row, Allergychoices is excited to support the Teal Pumpkin Project. We believe that kids suffering from food allergies should be able to simply be kids. We see the value in programs like this as we support practices who use sublingual immunotherapy as a food allergy treatment because it can be helpful in building tolerance for foods that cause allergic reactions or reduce the risk of reactions in case of accidental exposure.
Our hats off to the people at FARE for calling attention to this issue, and for their work in helping allergic kids be part of a normal activity that should have room for all children to participate. Learn more about being part of FARE’s nationwide effort.
Happy (and safe) Halloween!
By Taylor Pasell, Allergychoices