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‘Teal Pumpkin Project’ Participants Helping Kids With Food Allergies Enjoy Halloween

October 24, 2016
in Kids

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SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — For the 1 in 13 kids with food allergies, Halloween can be a nightmare. In fact, many say they hate it.

It is bad enough that they’re isolated the rest of the year, often forced to sit alone at lunch “for their own safety,” but Halloween is a community holiday so it can feel even worse to be excluded from the fun.

Julie looks at the great pains food allergy kids must take to stay safe this time of year (parental candy sorting, constant handwashing). She also highlights the growing $25 billion a year industry based around products for these kids and the push to get non-food allergy families to help every child enjoy the tradition of trick-or-treating on Halloween (teal pumpkin project)

Lois Witkop, of food allergy research and education – or fare – explains that because Halloween is a community-based holiday, it can be especially difficult for kids who already struggle with isolation year round.

We hear far too many stories of kids with food allergies being excluded, facing bullying,” Witkop sa

And Mary says the adults can be worse than kids.

It’s just going to take some more education to get people to understand that it’s not asking you to change you entire lifestyle, but maybe take those few extra steps to make sure my child is safe.

Awareness is growing, along with the number of food allergies in kids

According to the CDC, they’ve increased 50% over the last decade.

No one really knows why the instance of food allergies are exploding in children now a days, David Bloom sa

But with a reported economic impact of $25 billion a year, Snacksafely.com’s Dave Bloom says retailers are paying attention

Bloom points to a growing number of products marketed to the food allergy community.

Ranging from food lines, to novelty items like the switch witch, who swaps out candy for toys on Halloween night.

Businesses are looking at opportunities and a growing market,” Witkop sa

And, Witkop says in some cases they’re helping to raise awareness.

For instance, maybe you’ve noticed an increase in teal pumpkin décor – everywhere from Etsy, to Target, to CVS.

Teal, is the color of food allergy awareness, and Fare’s Teal Pumpkin Project encourages families without food allergies to offer non-food Halloween treats – in addition to candy – for trick-or-treaters like Marcus.

You’re able to go over there without feeling left out,” Marcus sa

Fare’s interactive map shows a growing number teal pumpkin homes, but few neighborhoods with more than one house.

Participants can paint or purchased a teal pumpkin, or simply print a sign to indicate they have non-food treats available, including anything from pencils, to party favors, stickers, even spare change.

It’s a simple gesture, which can be inexpensive, yet priceless.

Marcus wishes there could be a teal pumpkin at every house this Halloween.

That would be amazing to me because that means more people would be aware of people with allergies,” he sa
I worry about him constantly when he’s not in my care, so it is a big deal,. It would be awesome to know that I could send him into the world and not constantly worry about that,” Mary sa

Snacksafely.com has a list of allergy friendly candy like Dum Dums and Tootsie Rolls, and like the teal pumpkin project, they recommend you use a separate bowl for those types of treats.

They also stress, especially this time of year, every child with food allergies should keep two Epi-Pens with them at all times, just in case.

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