Spot the teal pumpkin: Kids with food allergies can still enjoy trick-or-treating

WASHINGTON — Not all pumpkins on porches are orange: Some are a hue of blue to show that the home has treats that are safe for kids with food allergies.

Homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project display a teal pumpkin and have nonfood treats such as glow sticks or small toys to hand out.

“This is our fourth year … and it has really just taken off,” said Gina Clowes of the nonprofit FARE, which stands for Food Allergy Research & Education. “It’s actually in all 50 states and over a dozen countries, a few hundred-thousand families so far. So, it’s really taken off and we’re really excited about it.”

Parents of children with food allergies know how difficult Halloween can be for kids, and a local allergist recommends parents be especially vigilant.

“I would recommend you accompanying your child. Don’t just let them just go off with ‘the group’ with somebody else’s parents,” said Dr. Martha White, an allergist in the Wheaton, Maryland, area.

“You really want to make sure that the child doesn’t go trick-or-treating and then snack while going house to house — that can be disastrous,” White said.

“Carry your epinephrine auto injector with you — just in case.”

When going through a child’s bag of collected candy, it might be tough to discern whether a particular treat includes something that might cause problems for a child with a milk allergy, for example.

“If in doubt, throw it out!” White said.

When homes offer nonfood treats, Clowes said it means the world to kids to be able to take something home they can keep.

“When they can just go to the door like every other child and pick up something that’s safe for them, it just really warms their heart and the parents; we really appreciate it,” Clowes said.

About one in every 13 kids who goes trick-or-treating has at least one food allergy, Clowes said, but you likely won’t see an equal number of teal pumpkins on display.

“Parents would be well advised to get their own safe snacks in case there’s very little that the child collects when they’re out trick-or-treating (that they can eat),” White said.

Here’s the link to an interactive map you can add to of homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

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