For the 33 million Americans living with food allergies, Halloween can be a holiday that is literally scary. According to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education), chances are, 1 in 13 kids will be trick-or-treating with food allergies and more than 40% of them have experienced a severe reaction to their allergen. These statistics are as of 2019 and are likely much higher today.
Halloween should be fun for all kids. However, food allergies cause additional anxiety on parents and kids alike for several reasons. Kids can often feel excluded from parties and activities involving food and candy. Parents spend extra time diligently label-reading. And most candy won’t be safe anyway because an allergen is an ingredient or because of the risk of cross-contact.
Recently, my son and I were at a Halloween event trick-or-treating. He noticed one table with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups piled high. He decided to skip that table and go directly to the next one. Without giving it a second thought, someone at the table thought it would be a good idea to throw a piece of candy at him. The moment I saw their arm wind up, I yelled out, “No, he’s allergic!” I couldn’t believe that someone was about to throw a peanut butter candy at my son with a peanut allergy.
These close encounters are something we have to deal with more often than we wish we had to. My son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies at five months old, even before his first Halloween. He doesn’t let that hold him back from the fun of dressing up and going door-to-door.
However, instead of being excited at every stop during trick-or-treating, he’s trying to peek in the large bowl of candy to see if he recognizes anything he knows he can eat, and usually letting out a sigh because it’s more of the usual suspects. More candy that’s not safe for him. But, every once in a great while, he will run up to me excitedly holding up something that he doesn’t have to give away.
How YOU Can Help!
The Teal Pumpkin Project is an initiative to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for those with food allergies, intolerances, and other conditions. Participating in The Teal Pumpkin Project means you offer non-food trinkets and treats that are safe for all trick-or- treaters. Therefore, no one feels excluded!
Each year, our household participates in The Teal Pumpkin Project by placing a teal pumpkin on our porch to let trick-or-treaters know we offer non-food items. And, honestly, some of the non-food items are a hit with all trick-or-treaters. Especially anything that glows!
Need ideas for non-food items to hand out? Where should we start? Here are some items that I recommend!
- Bouncy balls
- Fidget toys
- Glow necklaces or bracelets
- Pencils, erasers, or crayons
- Slap bracelets
- Spider rings
- Stickers or tattoos
- Playdoh or slime
- Vampire fangs
- and so many more!
Tips and Tricks for Safe Trick-or-Treating with Food Allergies
There are a few things to remember when it comes to safe trick-or-treating for kids with food allergies.
- Remember to always carry an epinephrine injector with you, even while trick-or-treating door-to-door.
- Be sure to read and double check ALL ingredients before consuming any treats. Mini-size candies or individually wrapped foods may contain different ingredients than what you’re used to eating. Even something consumed safely last year could no longer be safe.
- Stay away from any and all candy without ingredients listed on the wrapper.
- Avoid eating while trick-or-treating. It’s best to wait until you can diligently read all labels before diving in.
Upcoming Allergy-Friendly Events!
October 27, 6:00-8:00 p.m. | Enchanted Halloween | Clarkston
*this event will have Teal Pumpkin options
October 28, 12:00-2:00 p.m. | Trick or Treasure | Clawson
Enjoy and have a safe Halloween!