SIDNEY — Teal may be the new color of Halloween.
The Teal Pumpkin Project, which is a national campaign sponsored by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), helps raise the awareness about food allergies during one of the most favorite times of the year for young children — trick or treat. Through the program, participates learn how to include all children who have food allergies have a safe trick or treat adventure.
Last year, according to FARE’s website, households from all 50 states and seven countries participated in the project. More than 100,000 households signed the pledge to participate in the program.
“We were thrilled to see so many people embracing the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to ensure kids with food allergies can enjoy a safe, fun Halloween experience just like their friends,” said Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communications at Food Allegy Research & Education.
To participate, local residents are encouraged to take the pledge at tealpumpkinproject.org.
The pledge states: “This Halloween I pledge to show some extra kindness to the kids I know. I’ll get some nonfood treats at the store, like glow sticks, bracelets, stickers and more! I will put my teal pumpkin on proud display, on my porch, in a window or on a bale of hay. My teal pumpkin means I support children with food allergies, because all kids deserve to have a safe, happy Halloween.”
Once the pledge is signed online, the person promises to provide non-food treats for trick or treaters and to paint a pumpkin teal and place it in front of their home alerting trick or treaters with allergies that it’s safe to come to their home. A downloadable sign is also available on the website.
“We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from people who participated, many of whom said their kids were so excited to have treats they could keep, and who indicated this will be a family tradition for years to come. In addition, many families without food allergies participated last year, using the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to teach their children about the serious nature of food allergies and the importance of having empathy for those who are living with food allergies,.” said LaFemina.
According to FARE, one in 13 children has a food allergy. Any food can cause a reaction and many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, milk, soy or wheat, which are some of the most common allergens in children and adults.
Nonfood treats which can be given to trick or treaters might include glow sticks, bracelets or necklaces, pencils, pens, crayons or markers, bubbles, Halloween erasers or pencil toppers, bouncy balls, spider rings, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers or stencils.
FUNdraising events can also be held to help raise awareness of the project. Ideas include teal pumpkin sales where participants decorate pumpkins and sell them at farmer’s market, schools or grocery stores; teal pumpkin painting party where friends and neighbors paint pumpkins together; food-free Halloween party or trunk-or-treat; teal pumpkin walk; or neighborhood donation collection.
“Participating is easy! First, visit our website – tealpumpkinproject.org – to take the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge. Then, pick up some inexpensive non-food treats that you can hand out to trick-or-treaters and paint a pumpkin teal to place in front of your home to let families know your home has non-food treats. If you don’t have a pumpkin, simply print out one of FARE’s signs,” said LaFemina.
This is the second year for the Teal Pumpkin Project. Teal was selected for the color of the pumpkin because it has been used to raise awareness about food allergies and its medical conditions for 20 year.