When you think of fall, you typically think of falling leaves, cool weather, going back to school and of course, Halloween. Every kid loves trick or treating! This tradition can be tricky though for children with food allergies. Though in previous generations food allergies may have not been very common, now they are on the rise. With this in mind, parents have to be very cautious as they take their kids door to door for treats. No one wants a child in the hospital for accidently consuming an item that they were actually allergic to.
Food allergies affect one in 13 children in the United States. Put differently, that is roughly two children per every elementary classroom. According to FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education, there has been a 50% increase in the prevalence of food allergies between 1997 and 2011. Though it is not known why, it is believed this increase may be due to the additives being included in food production in recent years.
Every three minutes, someone in this country goes to the ER for an allergy related emergency. For those without allergies, it can be hard to relate, but these experiences are quite frightening for both the parents and the children involved.
In 2014, FARE launched the Teal Pumpkin Project to promote awareness of childhood food allergies and also make it possible for children with allergies to be included in the tradition of trick or treating. By placing a teal pumpkin on the porch, a homeowner can indicate that they have non-food items for children with food allergies. This way, children with diabetes, food allergies and other health conditions can enjoy a safe and fun Halloween just like all the other kids in their neighborhood.
This Halloween, when you see a teal pumpkin on a porch, you can know that the family at that house supports children with food allergies and other conditions for whom candy isn't an option.
Here are a few non-candy items to share with such children:
- small balls
This Halloween, take the pledge to be an inclusive home in your neighborhood that provides non-food trick or trick options. Since its start in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project has really taken off. For more information, please visit the Teal Pumpkin Project's Facebook page.