Today’s guest blog post comes from Nancy Gregory, senior director of communications for Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project®, please visit tealpumpkinproject.org. For more information about food allergies, please visit foodallergy.org

When we think about Halloween, we automatically think about orange jack-o-lanterns and candy – lots of it! But for families managing food allergies, this sugar-fueled day can be stressful, and sometimes a bit of a bummer for kids who can’t eat all the candy they collect.

In the United States today, 1 in 13 children has a food allergy. Just one bite of candy containing an allergen can be life-threatening for kids with food allergies. Other trick-or-treaters have food intolerances, celiac disease, digestive disorders, or special diets.

That’s where the Teal Pumpkin Project® comes in. Launched by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2014, this awareness campaign was created to help make Halloween happy and safe for all children.

Joining the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy. All you need is a teal pumpkin and non-food treats. (If you would prefer not to buy a pumpkin, you can download a free sign from FARE at tealpumpkinproject.org.)  Displaying a teal pumpkin signals that non-food treats are available at your house. Another way to share your allergy-friendly address is to place a pin on FARE’s interactive Teal Pumpkin Project online map.

Some teal pumpkins come from a pumpkin patch, others from a craft store, but all are fun to paint and decorate. For children who don’t have food allergies, this creative activity is also a lesson in empathy: Some kids can’t eat candy, so we can share our fun by offering treats that are safe for them.

Of course, being part of the Teal Pumpkin project doesn’t mean that you can’t hand out snacks. Many Teal Pumpkin Project families let trick-or-treaters choose: candy or a prize? Just remember to keep the snacks and trinkets in two separate bowls. Non-food treats are quite popular, even with kids who love candy.

Non-Food, Allergy-Friendly Halloween Treats

  • Glow sticks
  • Bracelets
  • Necklaces
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Bubbles
  •  Halloween erasers
  • Pencil toppers
  • Mini Slinkies
  • Bouncy balls
  • Coins
  • Spider rings
  • Vampire fangs
  • Mini notepads
  • Playing cards
  • Bookmarks
  • Stickers
  • Stencils
  • Small toys

The Teal Pumpkin Project was inspired by a local support group, the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET).

The 2016 goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project is for at least one home on every block to stock up on non-food treats.