It is getting to be most peoples’ favorite time of year. Temperatures are dropping and the leaves are beginning to change from green to all shades of orange and red. Stores have taken note of the change in season and have begun displaying fall decorations along with all kinds of seasonal squashes and other kinds of produce. Supermarkets and shopping centers line their storefronts, or a few aisles, with orange pumpkins of all shapes and sizes for families to purchase to take home to carve or to use as decorations.
Recently, within the last few years, a new color of pumpkin has hit the shelves. These new pumpkins are teal, but not as a result of genetic modification or biotechnology. In most cases, orange pumpkins are painted or the teal pumpkins are made of molded plastic. The Teal Pumpkin Project was launched in 2014 by the nonprofit Food Allergy and Education (FARE) group.
For kids, fall means picking their favorite superhero or princess and dressing up as them for Halloween. Most kids go trick-or-treating and race to see how much candy they can get in a couple of hours of going door-to-door to neighbors’ houses. For others, it isn’t so simple. Several kinds of Halloween candy have ingredients in them that kids are allergic to including, peanuts, milk, and soy, or traces of them. For kids with food allergies, going trick-or-treating for candy could be deadly. This is why the Teal Pumpkin Project was created.
According to an ABC News article, parents are putting teal pumpkins on their doorsteps in order to let trick-or-treaters know that they have non-food treats for ones with food allergies. The FARE group has a website that shows a map full of pins marking houses that are participating in the project. Parents of kids with food allergies are very thankful for this project. It brings them comfort in knowing that their kids can participate in the holiday activity like all of the other kids. One parent explains, “I reached out to every member of my neighborhood…and asked them if they plan to give out candy and if they would be open to providing a non-food treat…to our surprise and delight, every house participated that first year.”
FARE sells starter kits on their website for people who want to hand out non-food items to trick-or-treaters. The kits include printable posters and the non-food treats. Their website also includes ideas on what small toys or glow sticks someone can hand out, how to help and donate to the FARE group, and how to spread the word about the Teal Pumpkin Project.
I think this project is a great idea. Several kids have food allergies. Kids should not have to worry about having a life-threatening allergic reaction as a result of going trick-or-treating, a favorite childhood activity. Kids with allergies are different than kids without them. They have to constantly be aware of what they’re eating. This project helps kids with allergies fit in with everyone else. It helps them be normal for a night when everyone else is trying to be someone they’re not.