Halloween is just a few weeks away, and many children enjoy going trick-or-treating. Unfortunately, that activity can be fraught with peril for a child with a food allergy.
Food allergies are increasingly common in the United States according to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). They have increased by 50 percent from 1997 to 2011. Currently, about 15 million people in the US have food allergies. They are especially common in children; about one in 13 children has a food allergy. Food allergies are particularly dangerous to teenagers and young adults, for they are the most likely to have fatal allergic reactions. Severe allergic reactions to food result in one person going to the hospital every three minutes.
FARE started the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014 to both raise awareness of food allergies and make Halloween safer for youngsters with food allergies. The project was inspired by a similar initiative in Tennessee.
Participants in the Teal Pumpkin Project agree to the following pledge:
“This Halloween, I pledge to show some extra kindness to the kids I know. I’ll get some non-food treats at the store, like glow sticks, bracelets, stickers and more! I will put my teal pumpkin out on proud display, on my porch, in a window, or on a bale of hay. My teal pumpkin means I support children with food allergies, because all kids deserve to have a safe, happy Halloween.”
Just as pink is associated with breast cancer awareness, teal is associated with food allergy awareness. Thus, a teal pumpkin on display indicates that the homeowner is promising to provide non-food treats that kids with food allergies may safely enjoy.
The FARE website includes information about the Teal Pumpkin Project including an interactive map that people can use to locate places in their neighborhoods that are participating in the project. Participants in the Project may add their home to the map. The website also provides printable flyers that can be taped to a window to provide more detailed explanations – including signs in Spanish and French.