JACKSON, MISS– With Halloween just around the corner, Mississippians are focused on decorating their home, getting the kids’ costumes picked out, and charting out the best neighborhoods with the tastiest candy haul for trick-or-treating.
But for children with severe food allergies, trick-or-treating is complicated. Sure, they can dress up as their favorite hero or cartoon character, but when they knock on the door and say “TRICK-OR-TREAT!” they’re likely leaving the goodies at the door. And that’s if they go door-to-door at all.
“One in 13 children have a food allergy,” said Nancy Gregory, with FoodAllergy.org. “To get a mental picture, that’s two in every classroom. In your neighborhood, there’s probably a few children with food allergies.”
But now, there’s something you can do for the kids who have had to miss out on the Halloween candy fun because of those food allergies, and it’s all in how you decorate and shop for the Halloween visitors.
The Teal Pumpkin Project by foodallergy.org encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. It’s easy to get involved. Here’s what you do:
- Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters.
- Place a teal pumpkin – the color of food allergy awareness –in front of your home to indicate you have non-food treats available.
- Display a free printable sign or premium poster from FARE to explain the meaning of your teal pumpkin.
For non-food treats, there are plenty of options:
- Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
- Pencils, pens, crayons or markers
- Halloween erasers or pencil toppers
- Mini Slinkies
- Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers
- Bouncy balls
- Finger puppets or novelty toys
- Spider rings
- Vampire fangs
- Mini notepads
- Playing cards
There are ways to make the kids feel more included, and not embarrass them by asking about their food allergies. Foodallergy.org suggested making a game of it, or giving kids a choice of a non-food or food treat.
“It’s about inclusion,” said Gregory. “Letting all kids get together and have a good, safe time during this Halloween.”