A little bit about food allergies: unless you’ve been touched by it directly, it’s easy to not really understand how devastating they can be. Most people are of the “just don’t eat it, and you’ll be okay” mindset, which sadly isn’t always true. The most common food allergies are peanuts, treenuts, wheat, soy, milk, egg, fish, and shellfish. Researcher estimates that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, and that this potentially deadly disease impacts 1 in 13 children. That’s two kids in every classroom. If you read the ingredients on almost every food, but especially candy, they almost all either contain one of these ingredients or are manufactured in a facility that does – something just as potentially dangerous.
Oh, and there is no cure. The only treatment is for a child to be injected with Epinephrine and then get to the hospital in time for breathing treatments and steroids, and then to spend days monitoring for any rebound reactions.
Now… imagine what Halloween must be like for them. I can tell you what it’s been like for my youngest daughter.
She can and does certainly have fun with the pumpkin carving, decorating, and costume making. She even has fun trick or treating, but she can never, ever eat any of the candy she collects, and we can’t even bring it in the house. So as soon as the night is over, my husband puts the bag of goodies in his car to take to work. It takes a little bit of the magic out of the occasion.
So this year, join my family and thousands of others and participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project. What is this, you say? It’s a declaration to all those food allergy kids that they can have fun and get a safe treat. By displaying a teal pumpkin – either painting a pumpkin teal or printing out one of the many online options here, you are telling those children that you have non-food treats available, and that they should be included in all the fun that Halloween brings.
Some ideas for what to give are glow sticks, pencils, stickers, crayons, or cheap little toys like spider rings.
It’s a really small thing we can all do to help Halloween be a fun holiday for ALL kids.