Even if you’re fortunate to have a child free of food allergies, you more than likely know a child who does suffer from them. It is estimated that food allergies affect up to 15 million Americans which means that one out of every 13 children you see playing at your child’s favorite playground, suffers from some food allergy. Those are some pretty notable numbers.
We’re two weeks away from celebrating the beloved Halloween holiday and I’d like to help you make it a happier and safer celebration for all kids. There is ONE very simple thing you can do to ensure that every trick-or-treater who knocks on your door can enjoy the goodies you’re sharing – and it doesn’t take the fun out of celebrating Halloween. On the contrary, much of what we can do builds a sense of community and inclusion, increases awareness of food allergies, and adds a special flare to your Halloween décor.
That one simple thing is to join the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Launched by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the Project raises awareness of food allergies during Halloween. According to FARE, the Project is “designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all.” And guess what? The Project has East Tennessee roots! Its inception comes from the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET)!
Participating is REALLY simple: place a teal colored pumpkin in front of your residence and provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. These simple gestures will speak volumes to the allergy food suffers in your community. Teal is the color of food allergy awareness so any passerby familiar with food allergies should recognize your home as a safe place from which to collect non-candy treats.
If you’re wondering what you can hand out this Halloween, check out the list below where you’ll find some fun, non-food suggestions. Most of these items are available on the cheap at dollar stores, party supply stores, or online shops.
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets or novelty toys
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
- Coloring books
My kids and I have been participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project for a few years (you can read about 2015 and 2014 here and here, respectively) and my kids have really enjoyed painting our pumpkins teal and choosing non-food goodies to share on Halloween. I was really excited to read that we’ve been in great company; according to FARE, “Last year, households from all 50 states and 14 countries participated.” How cool is that? People the world over, in countries where Halloween is not a *thing* are participating in this project. That speaks volumes about how this movement can help create and foster a safer and happier Halloween environment for all kids!
If you’re interested food allergy-friendly Halloween events in the Knoxville area, check out the following (listed in chronological order):
- Karns Elementary School’s PTA event on October 21 from 6-7:30pm. $6 per family of four for non-members.
- Bewitching Bats! at the UT Gardens on October 22 from 1-3pm. Your family will have the chance to learn about bats and how these creatures help keep balance in nature. $6 per child.
- Karns High School’s Ghoul at the School on October 27 from 6-8pm. FREE.
- the KMB table at Freaky Friday Fright Night on October 28 from 5-7pm. FREE.
- FACET’s Teal Pumpkin Party on October 29 from 10:30-11:30am. This event will offer fun games, crafts and non-food treating! You’ll also have a chance to paint your own teal pumpkin. FREE.
- First United Methodist Church (in Maryville) on October 30 from 2-4pm. FREE.