The Teal Pumpkin Project: Making Halloween Memorable for all Kids

Childhood is full of magical celebrations, and almost all of them involve food. We’re thinking chocolate and handmade cards on Valentine’s Day,  eggs filled with candy at Easter egg hunts, melting popsicles and ice cream cones at a Canada Day celebration, a bag full of candy after a night Trick or Treating, cookies and sweet treats at Christmas, and cupcakes at school birthday parties. Kids with food allergies, especially allergies that are life-threatening, are often excluded from these special activities, as it just simply isn’t safe for them to participate.

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project.

What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Have you ever seen a teal pumpkin on a neighbor’s doorstep on Halloween? It serves a purpose (besides looking nice!). The teal pumpkin is a signal to food allergy families that this house will provide a safe, non food treat. It was created so that all children, regardless of allergies or special diets, could participate in the fun of Halloween.

That’s awesome! How do I participate?

It’s easy to participate! You can either paint a pumpkin teal (the food allergy awareness color) or buy one to place outside your home. Additionally, there are free printable signs that you can place in your window so families know you’re providing alternative treats.

Buy non-food treats for trick-or-treaters. Of course, you can also give out candy, but non-food treats should be kept in a separate bowl. You can give children the option for a non-food treat when they come to the door.

What are “non-food” treats?

Luckily, there are tons of inexpensive options at party stores, online suppliers, dollar stores, and department stores. Here are some ideas:

  • stickers, tattoos, or stencils
  • glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces
  • pencils, markers, or crayons
  • Halloween erasers or mini notepads
  • bubbles
  • Halloween themed rings, bracelets, necklaces, or fangs
  • playing cards
  • bouncy balls
  • whistles, noisemakers, or  kazoos
  • novelty toys
  • bookmarks
  • coins

I didn’t buy any candy with nuts or chocolate. Isn’t that good enough?

Unfortunately, for some kids, it’s not. Some candy might not contain an allergen as an ingredient, but may have been cross contaminated during manufacturing or packing.  Other candy may seem safe, but may still contain an allergen (for example, Twizzlers aren’t safe for kids with a gluten allergy). There are kids who are allergic to food dyes, kids who have feeding tubes, kids who have other disorders that prohibit them from consuming sugar, and kids whose siblings have life threatening food allergies that will certainly appreciate any non-food option you can offer.

The goal of the Teal Pumpkin Project isn’t to take candy out of Halloween; it is simply to help include those kids who can’t enjoy Halloween in the traditional sense. So, this Halloween, tell your neighbors and friends, and display those teal pumpkins proudly!  For more information, visit Teal Pumpkin Project.