Teal Pumpkin Halloween
By Ellen Filgo
When my son was three, his daycare switched their lunchroom to being peanut-free. At first, I wondered what my son – who pretty much subsists on PBJ sandwiches – was going to eat, but soon figured out that he liked the almond-butter and jelly sandwiches I ended up packing in his lunch. While we don’t have any food allergies in our family, I have several friends with children who deal with severe or even life-threatening allergies to several different foods. I also have a good friend whose youngest son was a 23-weeker preemie and for many years got most of his nutrition by feeding tube.
Halloween Trick-or-Treating can be a tricky time for these families. Families that manage allergies or intolerances, or families of kids with celiac disease, diabetes or feeding tubes need to balance the desires of their children to have a fun holiday with keeping them safe. Much of our Halloween candy contains a lot of the most common allergens – wheat, soy, nuts, milk, eggs, and food dyes. In addition to that, much of the Halloween candy that people purchase comes in smaller sizes without nutrition labels, so parents can’t determine what is or isn’t safe to eat.
This is where the Teal Pumpkin Project comes in. The Teal Pumpkin Project “encourages people to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season.” This movement provides a way – by offering non-food treats – to include children who normally would be left out of the fun of Halloween Trick-or-Treating. Families can participate by providing a separate bowl of non-food treats* for trick-or-treaters and by putting a teal-colored pumpkin at their door to let people know of their participation in the project. The Teal Pumpkin website provides a map where families can register their participation so that other families can connect with them.
In addition, Holy Spirit Episcopal Church on Wooded Acres Drive provides an entire Teal Pumpkin-friendly Trunk or Treat on October 31 from 6-8 pm. Every single vehicle at the Trunk or Treat will have a bowl of non-food treats so that trick-or-treaters can have one fun and safe event to participate in.
Please join in this growing movement to make Halloween more inclusive of all trick-or-treaters.
* There are lots of great non-food treats that kids of all sorts love! The Teal Pumpkin Project provides a great list: Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces, Pencils, pens, crayons or markers, Bubbles, Halloween , Erasers or pencil toppers, Mini Slinkies, Whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers, Bouncy balls, Finger puppets or novelty toys, Coins, Spider rings, Vampire fangs, Mini notepads, Playing cards, Bookmarks, Stickers, Stencils
Ellen Filgo is a research librarian at Baylor and a Wacoan of 10 years. She is also the director of the Waco Diaper Bank and a member of Holy Spirit Episcopal Church. She loves living in Sanger-Heights with her husband, her stepson and her two energetic little boys. She has been known to get sidetracked researching the answer to a random question casually asked in a Facebook post.