FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project Makes Halloween Safer for Kids with Allergies

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If your child has food allergies and you see a teal-colored pumpkin while you’re out trick-or-treating, take a deep breath — you’ve got a safe spot to go.

Even though most of the houses are handing out potentially life-threatening treats laden with peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, milk ingredients, and gluten, a teal pumpkin is a little gourd-y symbol that says “Hey, it’s cool. We get it.”

FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project Makes Halloween Safer for Kids with Allergies

This is the first Halloween that FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is starting The Teal Pumpkin Project. They’re encouraging families to paint a pumpkin teal, and place it on their porch to signal that they have non-food treats available for little ghosts and ghouls — or, rather, Elsas, Annas, and Ninja Turtles.

What’s a safe non-food item to pass out? FARE suggests glow bracelets or necklaces, pencils, markers, boxes of crayons, erasers, bubbles, mini Slinkies, whistles or noisemakers, bouncy balls, coins, spider rings, vampire teeth, mini notepads, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers, and stencils.

You can purchase these items inexpensively at dollar stores, or online at Amazon and Oriental Trading. The best part is that they’ll easily keep until next Halloween if you have extras, so there’s no waste — unlike those mini chocolate bars, which somehow seem to disappear in the days following Halloween.

FARE is also offering a free printable poster that you can stick in your window — or right on your front door — to make sure trick-or-treaters and their parents understand you have non-food treats available.

We love that this project makes Halloween safer for every child — kids with allergies, kids with diabetes, kids who aren’t able to eat food coloring, kids whose parents simply don’t want them hopped up on sugar. Who wouldn’t love getting a cute little pot of Play-Doh, like Roo hands out?

Even the teal pumpkins themselves can be customized to suit a accommodate a family member’s allergies. Allergic to milk paint? Use acrylic, or even spray paint! If you have a little one with pumpkin allergies, paint a plastic one — and then you can use it every year!

We’re excited to see how many families participate in the first-ever Teal Pumpkin Project. We think it’s going to make trick-or-treating a much more fun — and less stressful — experience for families dealing with food allergies.

What are you waiting for? Get out that teal paint!

H/T to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education)

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Check out Roo’s post about how Halloween with Food Allergies Doesn’t Have to be Scary!

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

19 Comments to FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project Makes Halloween Safer for Kids with Allergies

  1. I love this so much! As an adult with food allergies and a school counselor, this is amazing! I’m sharing this info with everyone I know.

    • Thank you, Mary! We’re seeing an unbelievable amount of response, which is wonderful. It would be fantastic to see families across the world putting out teal pumpkins this year, and having non-food items available.

  2. Melanie

    This. Is. Awesome. So appreciate the awareness I get from you guys. Passing it on!!

  3. Sandee Hill

    This is an awesome idea. I hope lots of people follow this. I always hand out non food items as well as candy. I have a small treasure chest that i fill throughout the year with small toys like you would get for party favors. I buy them after holidays so i get them on clearence and save them in the treasure chest. My son didnt really have a food allergy but chocolate would trigger a migraine. he would trick or treat then set up a candy store in our house and sell us his loot and then go by a toy. But kids with severe allergys cant even touch then sometimes. Now i have to go buy a pumpkin

    • Love the erasure chest idea, Sandee! And that’s adorable that your son would set up a candy store at home.

      • Sandee Hill

        thanks, I dress up and sit on the porch and tell the kids they can have 4 toys. Last year one little girl squealed and said > I remember this house it is the bestest “

  4. K

    What a great idea!
    I hope this catches on.
    Just want to add that play-doh might not be the best idea as a substitute; It contains wheat, so is not suitable for kids with celiac or wheat allergies.

    • That’s a good point, K! I love Sandee’s idea about putting out a treasure chest of items and letting the child choose — then they can pick out something that’s age-appropriate and allergy-appropriate.

  5. Kerri

    I’m all for allergy suffering children enjoying Halloween and I’m also loving the teal pumpkin idea. However, the list of acceptable ‘treats’ is also quite frightening… FARE suggests glow bracelets or necklaces which are filled with toxic chemicals, coins which are a huge choking hazard if you have very little ones at home and lastly, she’s suggesting getting BPA-filled plastic (and also likely a choking hazard) cheap toys from the Dollar Store.
    I like this project idea, but she’s taking one scary thing away and replacing it with another and another…

    • Thanks for your comment, Kerri. It’s true that most of FARE’s suggestions are inexpensive items that may not be made from the safest plastic, but there are plenty other options: Halloween pencils, erasers, stickers, etc. It really depends on how much the family wants to spend, and which items they feel comfortable handing out. As for some items being choking hazards, the same could be said for plenty of traditional Halloween treats — gumballs, hard candies, etc. — and should be given out at the parents’ discretion.

  6. Now all they need is an online registry or an app so allergy families actually know where to go and aren’t just wandering around crossing their fingers that they’ll see a teal pumpkin…

    • Thanks for commenting, Cassie! The registry is a good idea, but I think most families with allergies will still go to all the houses — even if they don’t have a teal pumpkin — and just expect that they may not be able to keep/eat everything they receive in their bags.

      There are probably going to be cities/towns where lots of people have teal pumpkins, and other places where no one has heard about the project, unfortunately. I fully expect that many people in my (very small) town will have no idea why we have a teal pumpkin, until they read the sign posted on our front window.

      The teal pumpkins and signage will just prompt trick-or-treaters with allergies (and their parents) to think “Oh, awesome! Let’s make sure to visit that house and get something fun and non-edible!”

  7. Sodayah

    When we bought our house 5 Halloweens ago I made it a point to have other options for the kids with allergies. I grew up having a milk protein allergy and most of my candy because forfeit to my sisters because I couldn’t eat it. Most years we have chocolate and chips as well as stickers & pots of play-doh. This also caters to the little kids who really are to young to eat the candy. I love the idea that I can identify my home as a safe allergy place and while we can’t make sure there is something for everyone at least we can cover off a few so those kids can know they deserve to join in the fun too.

    Last year when we gave out play-doh we had 6 kids come up to the door and when we asked if they were peanut and dairy free they all said yes we brought out the play-doh and each of them took a different colour, after talking to the parents we found out only one of the children had a nut allergy but they sat down after trick-or-treating and traded one for one what they could so the child didn’t lose out on any treats. That child’s friends chose to get a treat they knew they weren’t keeping so they would have more to trade with.

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