(KGTV) - It's estimated more than 40 million children around the U.S. go trick-or-treating every year. From such a massive number, there's a high likelihood homeowners will meet trick-or-treaters with a food allergy knocking on their door.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is working to spread awareness of food allergies by encouraging families to leave a teal-colored pumpkin on their doorstep.
The teal pumpkins are meant to signal to trick-or-treaters that food allergy options are available. Teal is the color used for food allergy awareness.
"We know that it’s making a difference in so many lives and we are thrilled to grow this campaign on behalf of children who have food allergies, which are potentially life-threatening," Lois Witkop, chief advancement officer at Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), said.
While the teal pumpkin is not meant to replace the traditional act of giving out candy on Halloween, it is an important way to include those who may have dietary restrictions, organizers said. To participate in the cause, parents are asked to:
- Enforce a “no eating while trick-or-treating” rule, so that you have time to review all food labels.
- Avoid candy and treats that do not have an ingredient label.
- Always have an epinephrine auto-injector available, if needed and prescribed.
- Keep in mind that the mini-size, fun-size, or bite-size version of candy may contain different ingredients than their full-size counterparts. Make no assumptions, and read all labels carefully.
- Keep the emphasis on the fun, rather than the candy.
- Know that a candy that has been safe for your child in the past may now have different ingredients.
- Always read the label of a treat.
This year, FARE sent Teal Pumpkin Project kits to 225 elementary schools in underserved neighborhoods, including to neighborhoods in San Diego, to drum up community engagement.
"It has been absolutely amazing to see families continue to embrace the Teal Pumpkin Project, whether they are personally affected by food allergies or not," Witkop said.