Teal Pumpkin Project aims to make Halloween sweeter for kids with food allergies

WASHINGTON — The most welcome sight this Halloween for kids with severe food allergies may well be a teal pumpkin.

It’s part of an effort to make it a happy and safe Halloween for those whose allergies — particularly nuts, wheat, eggs and dairy — make Halloween candy, at best, a dicey proposition.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is the brainchild of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), an advocacy group for the 15 million Americans with food allergies.

“The idea is to put a teal pumpkin outside your door to tell people this is a home where it is safe for food-allergic children to get a nonfood treat,” says Dr. Rachel Schreiber, an allergist in Rockville, Maryland.

She says the idea is to promote safety and inclusion by providing kids with severe allergies a warm welcome and an alternative to sweets.

Nuts are probably the biggest source of trouble, but some children are also allergic to milk, soy and wheat — all of which can be hidden in a simple candy bar.

Roughly one in 13 children in the United States is affected by a food allergy. That amounts to at least one per classroom, or one on every block.

“As the problem has grown, I think that awareness has grown along with that,” says Schreiber, who adds the rapid growth of the Teal Pumpkin Project offers proof.

If you can’t actually paint a pumpkin teal, FARE offers posters and signs to signify participating households.

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