While most kids see Halloween as a gold mine of riches, to more than 5 million trick or treaters with food allergies it’s more like a minefield.
M&Ms, Reeces, Butterfingers, Snickers, Twix, all serve as potential threats. However, for Becky Basalone, Tennessee mother of two, this was unacceptable. Taking action into her own hands, she created the Teal Pumpkin Project.
The Teal Pumpkin Project started in 2012 and has since become nationally recognized. Teal is the color associated with food allergy awareness. On Halloween, people put teal pumpkins outside their homes to inform trick-or-treaters that they have allergy-friendly options.
“On Halloween, I have to get rid of about half my candy after sorting through it,” said seventh-grader Jason Stahl. He has had a peanut allergy his whole life. It’s not easy to trick-or-treat with a food allergy and it can actually be dangerous.
“There is always the threat of a reaction, especially when young kids snack as they go, so don’t take any risks,” said Dr. Kathryn Cambi, a local pediatrician. “Kids need their parents to look over everything before they eat.”
The goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project is to mitigate these dangers and to better accommodate people with food allergies.
“My friends will all be eating their candy and I’ll have to stay away,” Stahl said. Food allergies impact people of all ages. ELHS sophomore David Chung has had a tree nut allergy since he was 2. To be deprived of candy seems unthinkable to most, but it’s just the reality for people like him.
“Food allergies suck, but eventually knowing what you can and can’t eat is just normal,” Chung said. He and millions of other students can benefit from the Teal Pumpkin Project and anyone can participate.
People across the country display teal pumpkins in their driveways. When they buy treats, they opt to purchase either allergy-friendly foods or non-food options. Allergy-friendly foods include anything without the main eight allergens: milk, egg, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, fish, and shellfish. Non-food options include glow in the dark toys or stickers. While making this change may not seem significant, it is greatly appreciated by kids with food allergies and their parents.
“People are actually noticing food allergies and taking responsibility for it, which makes me happy,” Stahl said.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a way to safely accommodate kids with food allergies in trick-or-treating, so join the movement and turn your pumpkins teal.