Food allergies, 15 million Americans suffer from them, 1 in 13 of those are children.
If you read this post you know that we have one child with a life-threatening peanut allergy and in this post, I talked a little about how food allergies complicate our lives. As we approach the Holidays, food allergies are more at the forefront of our minds. It’s October and we are on the cusp of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a ton of other food sharing centered holidays. It requires careful planning and doesn’t come without anxiety.
The Teal Pumpkin Project
Since Oliver was diagnosed with food allergies, Halloween has been has become stressful. Once it was one of my favorite holidays. Growing up in Michigan it meant the smell of leaves, sweaters, cool nights. I still love decorating the house with pumpkins and spiders, making the front porch festive with hay bales and cornstalks, and picking out costumes for the kids (and sometimes making them). However, now it all leads up to “the night” where we are surrounded by allergens. We spend a good part of the weeks ahead reminding Oliver not to reach in a candy bowl only hold out his bucket, he absolutely can not eat a single piece of candy until we go through everything. There are peanuts and peanut contaminated foods everywhere.
In 2014, I stumbled across a new movement, The Teal Pumpkin Project. It was an amazing concept. Of course, we decided we would participate. The kids had a great time picking out little trinkets and non-food items to make our bags. On Halloween, we proudly displayed our Teal Pumpkin and asked our Trick or Treaters if anyone had an allergy. There were no takers until later in the evening a mom and a little girl came up to the door. When we asked if her child had food allergies her eyes welled up, she said that she did and that she likely wouldn’t be able to eat anything in her treat bucket. She was so thankful when we pulled out that bag with non-food items for her daughter. It made it worth it. I was that mom, newly diagnosed, scared and anxious.
We have faithfully participated in The Teal Pumpkin Project since. If I can help one parent worry less, it’s worth it. If I can teach my kids that inclusion is important, it’s worth it. If I can make ONE child’s night, I’d do it again 1,000 times.
How Can You Help?
During Halloween, get a teal pumpkin! Way back in 2014, I had to pain my own, but now I have seen them at several major retailers such as Target, Michaels, and Walmart. Or you can always grab a can of spray paint and craft your own. FARE has some cool Teal Pumpkin branded merchandise that you can purchase as well, this years garden flag is super cute! You can also donate to FARE directly here. We usually head to the Target Dollar Spot or Dollar Tree for fun stuff for our bags, this year we have rubber spiders my kids are going crazy over! It doesn’t have to be fancy, we usually do some stickers, bubbles, pencils, and erasers.
We also try to get more allergy friendly treats to give out as well. Kids with Food Allergies has a good list here. Skittles, Starburst, Swedish Fish, and Sour Patch Kids are easy to find readily available treats. Remember that choosing to participate means you could be the person to make that one mom’s night by including their child.