Learn about how the Teal Pumpkin Project makes Halloween safer for kids with food allergies and helps all kids feel included in the fun. Plus, check out our list of over 30 non-food treat ideas!
Halloween can be a scary time for kids with food allergies. 1 in 13 children has a food allergy, meaning many children can’t safely enjoy the same Halloween treats as their peers.
Fortunately, there’s a way to help make Halloween safer and more inclusive for kids with food allergies, as well as other children who are unable to enjoy the typical trick-or-treat candies. It’s called the Teal Pumpkin Project. Here’s what the Teal Pumpkin Project is and how you can participate.
What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
The Teal Pumpkin Project is a worldwide movement spearheaded by FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). Its mission is to help make trick-or-treating safer for kids with food allergies. It’s a simple way to make Halloween happier for all kids.
How to participate? It’s simple. Offer non-food treats instead of, or in addition to, candy. Place those non-food treats in a separate bowl from any candy you’re handing out. Then, place a teal pumpkin (or teal pumpkin sign) outside. The teal pumpkin will show that your home offers safe non-food treats that every kid can enjoy, including kids with food allergies.
Why a teal pumpkin? Teal is the color of food allergy awareness. Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project promotes inclusion and helps make sure kids with food allergies (and other conditions) don’t have to miss out on the fun.
If you’re participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can also choose to add your house to FARE’s map of homes offering non-food treats. But adding your house to the map is not required.
Why is the Teal Pumpkin Project important?
1 in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s around two kids in every classroom. And when someone has a food allergy, eating even a small amount of a food they’re allergic to can cause that person to develop an allergic reaction.
Sometimes, allergic reactions can become severe, or even life-threatening. This means kids with food allergies can’t safely eat many of the Halloween candies their peers can enjoy.
Peanut, tree nuts, egg, milk, wheat, soy and sesame represent around 90% of the most common childhood food allergies, and these allergens are often found in popular candies and chocolates.
And Halloween “fun size” or “treat size” candies are often made differently than their larger candy – and often don’t have labels. Sometimes, the manufacturing processes differ and cross-contact happens (meaning small amounts of an allergen food may get mixed into a candy that doesn’t normally contain the allergen.)
This means some Halloween candies might contain allergens that their larger versions don’t normally have inside. So, it can be difficult for food allergy parents to figure out whether a Halloween candy is safe or dangerous for their child. If parents can’t be 100% certain that a candy is safe for their food allergic child, their child can’t eat that candy.
All of this can make Halloween a difficult time for kids with food allergies, as they may feel left out.
But offering non-food treats means everyone can enjoy them, including kids with food allergies (and other kids with conditions that prevent them from safely enjoying candy). Non-food treats are fun for everyone, and help everyone feel included!
Ideas for non-food treats to give out on Halloween
Trying to figure out what non-food treats to give out this Halloween? We’ve got you covered with over 30 fun, safe, and inclusive ideas.
- If you’re planning to hand out both non-food treats and candy, keep the non-food treats in a separate bowl so they don’t come in contact with potential allergens in the candy.
- Also, avoid play-dough and slime, as these toys may contain wheat (a common allergen).
- Many retailers are embracing the Teal Pumpkin Project, so it's easier than ever to find non-food treat packs. CVS and Target have plenty of choices! Or, order trinkets in bulk from Amazon.
Here are some of our favorite non-food treats:
- Fidget toys, like pop-it keychains, squishies, and zipper bracelets – my family gives out fidget toys on Halloween, and they’re a hit with kids in our neighborhood!
- Trading cards, such as "Trick or Trade" Pokemon card packs
- Stickers (including vinyl ones for water bottles/notebooks)
- Glow sticks
- Rubber spiders/bugs/snakes/lizards
- Packs of playing cards
- Googly eye bouncy balls
- Small Slinkies
- Finger puppets
- Mini jigsaw puzzles
- Mini figures (think toy dinosaurs or “blind bag” mystery toys)
- Building kits, like these ghosts, pumpkins, and bats
- Stretchy toys
- Crayons or markers
- Coloring books
- Superhero masks
- Play coins
- Small plushies
- Light-up wearable toys (to increase visibility when kids are trick-or-treating)
- Mini skateboards
- Fun Halloween glasses
- Plastic cups with fun designs
- Pencil toppers
- Fun pencils
- Novelty jewelry, like spider rings and Halloween bracelets
- Glow in the dark stars
- Rubber duckies
Have a fun, safe, and inclusive Halloween!
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.
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