By painting a pumpkin teal and setting it outside your house, you're letting parents know you can provide food-allergy friendly choices for trick-or-treating. Teal means you understand the plight of those with food allergies, celiac disease or other issues that require people to eat outside the norm. Teal means you can help make the night just as fun for those who can't eat typical Halloween candy.
Teal means you care.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is the brain child of Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), started last year in 2014. The project raises awareness of food allergies in your very own neighborhood, and promotes inclusion of everyone this Halloween — even those with food allergies.
While I do not have food allergies, I do have celiac disease and have to avoid gluten — wheat, rye and barley — much like those with a true wheat allergy. Although the way that my body reacts when a potential threat is ingested is different than an allergic reaction, I've always considered food allergies and celiac more alike than not. We both must avoid certain foods with diligence, and our very quality of life depends on it.
Luckily, I did not have celiac when I was a child. I got to have a pretty typical Halloween as a kid, filled with candy of any kind. I didn't have to read any labels or avoid any ingredients. If it reached my trick-or-treat bag, it went into my mouth. It's much more difficult now. I walked the aisles at Target just to find candy that was safe for me, but the candy that was safe for me often was not safe for others with different food allergies or intolerances.
I can't imagine being a child who has to walk door-to-door only to receive candy that he or she cannot eat. That's why I support this project, and that's why you should as well.
It's not just about painting a pumpkin teal and putting it in your front yard. It's about using Halloween as a chance for awareness and advocacy.
Pledge to show kindness to children — and hey, adults that go trick-or-treating too — who can't eat traditional Halloween candy. Pledge that you'll involve them just the same as other children, even if it doesn't involve candy or treats. Everyone deserves to have a safe and fun Halloween. Ghoul, goblin, Anna, Elsa or Stormtrooper: everyone deserves a great Halloween.
Spray paint, hand paint with craft paint or buy a plastic teal pumpkin at a craft store. Trust me, they are everywhere this year. Don't worry if your teal does not match exactly to the teal in the project's logo. By placing a pumpkin of a different color, it will bring attention to your house on Halloween night.
Don't make Halloween just about chocolate and candy. If you participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, this means purchasing non-food treats like stickers, pencils, small games and silly straws for any child who may not be able to have candy.
Donate for this promotion and future promotions increasing awareness, education and advocacy for food allergies. This also goes towards food allergy research, which is so important as we try to understand why food allergies are so prevalent these days.
I hope you will take the pledge this Halloween to be a part of the Teal Pumpkin Project, bring awareness to food allergies and put a smile on someone's face — even if it's under a Darth Vader mask.
Find more teal pumpkins on Instagram with the hashtag #TealPumpkinProject.
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