The Teal Pumpkin Project: Making Halloween Fun for Children with Food Allergies
When I was a child, Halloween was one of my favorite holidays. I never tired of the homemade costumes, the delicious fright and the candy, ah the candy! As a young adult, Halloween's magic didn't fade. I still got a kick out of dressing up and the costume parties were always a great excuse to hang out with friends and eat a little more candy than I would responsibly do throughout the year.
As a mom of three, I expected the positive Halloween trajectory to continue, improve even. After all, is there anything more incredible as a parent than watching your kids' euphoria as they experience your favorite childhood traditions? Even more, is there anything quite as intoxicating as that magical mixture of sugar, costumes and friends?
Sadly, all of my happy Halloween visions would never come to fruition. My fantasies and expectations were quickly reshaped when I learned that two of my three children had severe food allergies. For our family, the fantastic fear of ghosts and skeletons paled in comparison to the chilling terror of anaphylaxis at the hands of some peanuts and almonds hidden in a seemingly innocuous Halloween treat.
Though we were all distraught by the diagnoses, generally speaking, our family sees life through a glass-half-full lens. We realize that severe food allergies are merely an impediment and we are so grateful for the progress in the allergy community around issues such as awareness, research and food labeling. 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies and there is strength in numbers.
Our favorite allergy organization, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is doing magnificent work in all these areas. And you can imagine our delight when they spearheaded the Teal Pumpkin Project for Halloween which promotes safety, inclusion and respect for kids with food allergies. Not only does the Teal Pumpkin Project strive to educate the general trick or treating population about food allergies, it also offers great ideas around alternative Halloween treats for those kids with food allergies. For those of us trick or treating with kids who have food allergies, we should look for the teal pumpkin displayed in people's houses. It indicates that allergy-safe treats are in store. What kid wouldn't like a coloring book, trinket or even a good, old-fashioned lollipop?
Though my children's Halloweens look slightly different from what I had imagined, they still know almost all of its joys. They may not know the dubious pleasure of mindlessly gorging on candy, but with a little thought and planning, their candy gorging days go strong all the way into December!