The Teal Pumpkin Project

Every year, children across the country look forward to Halloween. We all have fond memories of dressing up as our favorite princess, super hero, or fiendish villain and getting more candy that we’ll ever admit to our own kids.

But for some families, Halloween is another day to worry about a trip to the emergency room. Thousands of kids are affected by severe food allergies, and Halloween candy is no exception to foods to be mindful of. It was certainly something that hadn’t crossed my mind until I was in nursing school and was babysitting for a child with a severe peanut and egg allergy. Halloween left him disappointed as so many candies contained peanuts, milk, soy, wheat, and eggs (top allergens), or were manufactured in a factory that also processed peanuts, eggs, wheat…you get the idea. I remember how left out he felt going door to door, only to have to politely decline candy he knew he couldn’t eat.

As a nurse practitioner, there’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t see at least one child with a food allergy. About 1 in every 13 kids in the US are affected, and those numbers appear to be on the rise. To put it in perspective, that’s about two children in each school classroom.

Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project. The project, started by a Tennessee mom in 2014, promotes awareness of food allergies at Halloween. Participating is easy – teal pumpkins on our doorsteps means our candy bowls are allergy friendly.

Don’t know what candies are on the OK list? Allergen free trick-or-treat items don’t have to be candy! Consider non-food items (think fun erasers or Halloween pencils, or glow sticks – bonus points for safety!).

For a complete list of suggestions, tips on keeping kids with allergies and other dietary restrictions safe at Halloween time, fun free signs that explain your Teal Pumpkin, and info on the Teal Pumpkin Project, check out http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

Thanks for being our awesome patients!

Genevieve Kandler, CPNP

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