Make your home an inclusive stopping spot for trick-or-treaters this year by offering noncandy treats any ghoul would love.
One day a year, we let our little ones celebrate the fun of make-believe. Astronauts, dinosaurs and scarecrows roam the neighborhood with their best buddies in tow, stuffing their goody bags with what can seem like a year’s worth of sweet treats. It’s no wonder when you ask children to name their favorite holiday, you’re likely to hear: “Halloween!” However, for kids with food allergies and dietary restrictions, trick-or-treating can be exclusionary — or downright dangerous.
In fact, Halloween has been slowly starting to change its colors — in a good way. Teal Pumpkin Project is an international effort undertaken by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) to make Halloween safer and more inclusive for children with food allergies, restrictions and sensitivities.1 Launched in 2012, the project encourages households to display a teal pumpkin on their porch, a signal that trick-or-treaters will be offered nonfood items like glow toys and stickers.2 The project is now live in all 50 states and six continents, powered in part by CVS Health®. As the exclusive retail partner, CVS® is committed to creating an inclusive health and wellness community.3
Food allergies can be scary stuff
"In the U.S., an estimated 5.6 million children have potentially life-threatening allergies to food, including 2.4 million whose severe allergic reactions have sent them to a hospital emergency room," says Tiffany Leon, MS, RD, who serves as the Assistant Director of Training and Professional Programs for FARE — and this statistic doesn’t even take into account the many more kids with nonallergic dietary restrictions.4,5
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s no current cure for food allergies, and the only way to avoid a reaction is to stay vigilant about steering clear of known allergens.6 But the excitement of Halloween night, combined with a lack of awareness or attention to ingredients among some parents and other community participants, can make this advice tough to follow.
“Many people don’t realize that even trace exposure to some foods can lead to severe reactions, anaphylaxis and even death,” says Leon. Common allergy triggers include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy and milk — all common ingredients in store-bought candy. One report out of Canada showed an 85 percent jump in peanut-triggered anaphylaxis on Halloween.7
How to become a Teal Pumpkin participant
If you have a little one who needs to be careful about candy (whatever the reason) or you want to show support to families who do, you can consider taking part in the Teal Pumpkin Project. “The concept is simple and easy to follow,” says Leon. Follow these two steps:
- On Halloween night, display a teal-colored pumpkin on your doorstep or window. You can paint one yourself, buy one from CVS or use a poster like these free downloadable printouts from FARE.
- Stock up on non-edible treats to serve alongside or in place of candy. “If you’re offering both, make sure to place the traditional candy in a separate container,” says Leon.
You can also register your home, and look for other Teal Pumpkin houses, through an interactive map — no matter where you live.
Teal treats that are sure to please
Not sure what else besides chocolate is appropriate for the occasion? Here are some delightful nonfood treats —available both in store and online — to make your household more inclusive this Halloween.
Glow sticks and light-up accessories allow children to accessorize their costumes and stay a little more visible after the sun goes down. Glow-in-the-dark tattoos and Glow-in-the-dark pens both fit the bill.
Crayons, stickers and paint kits give kids an activity to take home and craft their own art instead of chowing down on potentially harmful treats. Halloween pencils make this concept even more festive.
Miniatures are always a crowd pleaser — just make sure as with any toy, that they are age appropriate and you get the A-OK from parents. Spooky Village Halloween Pop-up Favors provide interactive fun long into November and beyond.