The costumes have been bought, the porch has been draped in cobwebs and vinyl ghosts cling to the windows. But is your home ready for Halloween?

For the one in 13 children with food allergies or medical conditions, Halloween can be an especially scary time. Many popular Halloween treats are filled with common allergens, like wheat, dairy, and nuts, and many miniature treats lack labels after they are separated from their original packaging.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way for households to designate they have non-food treats available: a teal pumpkin.

The Teal Pumpkin Project was launched by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) in 2014 to raise awareness of food allergies and promote inclusiveness throughout the Halloween season.

I have written about the Teal Pumpkin Project previously, but when a friend shared that her young son was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and is unable to eat sugar, this news helped me imagine how alienating it would be to have a special condition on such a sugar-fueled holiday.

Participation is simple. Provide non-food treats to hand out on Halloween and show that you have non-food treats available by placing a teal pumpkin and/or a teal pumpkin sign outside your home. Signs are available for free download on the FARE website.

It’s not too late to make your porch teal-pumpkin-friendly. Local retailers have a variety of affordable options. In years past, I have handed out glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark tattoos, fake fangs, bubbles, bouncy balls, and other toys. It might surprise you, but some of the toys were more popular than the candy options I also provided. In particular, the tattoos and glow sticks were a hit. Stickers, play dough (look for wheat-free), pencils, and other items will be used long past Halloween night. The Teal Pumpkin Project requests that you separate the non-food items from the candy for the safest process.

Offering non-food treats can help children suffering from food allergies, food intolerances, Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE), Celiac disease, and others.

When I searched the Teal Pumpkin map, I only found two households in Derby registered to participate for 2019. Can we raise that number by tomorrow and help more kids have a safe and enjoyable holiday?

To learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

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