October 15, 2019
Posted By: Jessica Geary-Cecotti
:: WRITTEN BY JESSICA GEARY-CECOTTI ::
While Halloween can be delightful in so many ways, it can also be seriously scary... especially for parents with kids who have food allergies.
As the parent of a kiddo with a gluten allergy, I speak from experience. We feel fortunate that the allergy is non-life threating, but it can still put a damper on festivities such as trick-or-treating. For those parents who do have children with serious allergies, this seemingly innocent tradition can feel terrifying. We want to send our kiddos out to enjoy every morsel of this nostalgic experience, but when your child has a food allergy, every house has you worried. Rather than watching our child joyfully diving into his or her bounty at the end of the night, we have to commandeer their candy until a thorough inspection has been done.
That’s why FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project. The concept is for participating families to put a teal pumpkin at their door to indicate they have allergy-friendly and/or non-food treats. Helping parents and kids rest assured the treats are safe.
FARE’s website has a searchable map of participating Teal Pumpkin households. This assists parents in finding the most allergy-friendly neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. You can officially register on their website if you would like to participate. (www. foodallergy.org). It’s also a tremendous resource in general for families dealing with food allergies (researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have allergies including 5.6 million children under age 18 (www.foodallergy.org)).
When I went to register, there were no official Teal Pumpkin households in Montana (well, there’s one now!). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t Teal Pumpkin houses in our area, it could just mean that people have been hearing about it through word-of-mouth thus far. But with the community’s help to spread the word, this campaign can gain quick traction.
If you want to participate (regardless of whether you sign up on the FARE website or not), here are some ideas and tips that might help with your first Teal Pumpkin Halloween:
Glow bracelets Coins
Pencils and erasers
Boxes of crayons
Cute tissue packs
Note: If you plan ahead and shop around a bit, you can find unique and practical treats that won’t just end up in the trash. I personally don’t feel they need to be Halloween-themed either; this will give the items a longer shelf life. But be mindful that even some non-food treats have allergens (i.e. Play-doh contains wheat), so please read labels. If you want to hand out food treats, the safest route would be to purchase certified allergy-friendly specific brands. I found these on Amazon along with other Teal Pumpkin Project items when I searched “allergy-friendly Halloween:”
No Whey Free
Note: If you are handing out both allergy- friendly and non-allergy-friendly treats, make sure to have two distinct bowls so there’s no confusion.
If you are all about homemade sweets on Halloween and wouldn’t have it any other way, please make certain your allergy- friendly treats don’t contain or have possible cross-contamination with these eight foods that cause the majority of reactions: milk, tree nuts (walnuts, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio and brazil nuts), fish, egg, wheat, shellfish, peanut and soy.
Let’s put out teal pumpkins and help make Halloween more fun, fabulous and safer for all!
Jessica Geary-Cecotti is the Social Media Manager for Montana Parent and owner of her own graphic design studio, Flora Fauna Designs. Nature and animals have always held a special place in her heart and continue to be her most profound source of inspiration. She is the mother of two wildly awesome boys and borderline believes in mermaids.
Sources: FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) www.foodallergy.org and Amazon.com.