Teal Pumpkins: Keeping Halloween Safe for Food Allergy Sufferers
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A bag of Halloween candy isn’t all treats for the one in 13 U.S. kids who suffer from food allergies, which is why one group is working to make this year’s holiday a little less tricky.
Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communications with Food Allergy Research and Education, hopes instead of just passing out candy, Michiganders will consider offering kids non-food items, like small toys or other goodies. She says the idea has appeal beyond the food allergy community.
“We are seeing a positive response from families who are managing other diseases for which candy presents a problem,” says LaFemina. “For example, diabetes or celiac disease and also from families who would prefer their kids have alternatives to candy when they come back from that night of fun.”
Families who participate are encouraged to paint a pumpkin teal, the color of food allergy awareness, and put it on the porch or doorstep, along with a sign indicating the house is allergy-safe. A free printable sign and more information is online at “FoodAllergy.org.
She adds, food allergies can leave many children feeling left out and hopes the Teal Pumpkin Project will help create a more inclusive holiday.
“It’s empowering for families managing food allergies to know their neighbors and communities really want to make sure their children are feeling involved and safe, and able to participate in the same way their friends can,” says LaFemina.
Because of cross-contamination risks for allergy sufferers and other safety concerns for all kids, LaFemina reminds parents to carefully inspect Halloween treats, and to set a “No Eating While Trick-or-Treating” policy.
Mona Shand is the producer and correspondent for Michigan News Connection, a division of Public News Service.