(Photo by Jason Enevoldsen)
By Alice Enevoldsen
Special to West Seattle Blog
Think about a recent time you were excluded from something:
Your friends spent the evening out without you; you didn’t have time to watch that movie everyone said was so good; or, you weren’t invited to an important meeting, even though your coworker at the same level was. You know that feeling? It isn’t fun, but as adults we’re able to deal with it appropriately most of the time. Celebrating Halloween with food allergies means being left out over and over again, which is particularly difficult for children.
Enter the Teal Pumpkin Project! It’s simple:
1. (optional) Sign up at http://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project.
2. Display a teal pumpkin at your door, or a picture of one, to show that you’re participating.
3. Give trick-or-treaters a non-food treat, either instead of candy or in addition to candy.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is not an attempt to eliminate candy from Halloween. The Teal Pumpkin Project was started to promote the inclusion and safety of, and respect for, people with food allergies. As a happy circumstance, this also promotes the inclusion and safety of, and respect for, people who also cannot have candy for reasons besides food allergies.
I don’t have food allergies, why would I participate?
Empathy and inclusion.
Halloween today is one of many social occasions with an emphasis on food. For someone like me, with food allergies, these occasions mean being excluded or partly excluded. That’s not fun. It’s not fun that it is absolutely necessary that I use my willpower to resist eating a delicious-looking cookie that might have nuts, or a caramel candy bar (my favorite) because the brand has mixed peanuts into the caramel. I’m an adult though: I have both the willpower to resist the candy bar and the emotional resiliency to cope with the exclusion. Children are still learning these things.
There are already 18 households signed up on the West Seattle peninsula, including White Center. You can find a map of some of them on the Teal Pumpkin Project website.
I know there are more planning to participate as well.
Do kids really like non-food treats?
Yes. Not every kid likes every treat, and that’s true for candy too, but non-food treats can be even more fun, and are less likely to be subject to the “parent tax” (you know the one: the portion of kids’ candy eaten by the parents after bedtime?). I’m sure you can get even more creative, but stickers and glowsticks are usually a hit. I’ll be making slime. Are you down to the wire on time? A dollar store is going to have a variety of things that might work for you.
If I’m handing out candy and non-food treats, how do I determine which treat to give to each trick-or-treater?
I advocate giving out both to each kid, but the Food Allergy Research and Education organization recommends that “you can either ask trick-or-treaters if they have any food allergies, or give every visitor a choice of which treat they’d like: candy or a non-food item.” Keep your candy and non-food treats in separate bowls.
I/My Child Has Food Allergies
Please stay safe on Halloween. Bring your epinephrine and allergy medications while you trick-or-treat and to Halloween parties. Wait until you get home to eat any treats. Check every label and ingredients – “fun-size” candies can have different ingredients than full-size. If you can’t find the ingredients, swap it for something safe. Bring extra safe treats along with you to parties.
Have a Happy Halloween!
FARE: Food Allergy Research and Education
FAACT: Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team
WA-FEAST: Washington Food Allergy, Eczema, and Asthma Support Team—this is our local active support group.
Sea-FAC: Seattle Food Allergy Consortium—local research being done into causes and cures for food allergies.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re adding the Teal Pumpkin Project map to the WSB West Seattle Halloween Guide, so you can find it again easily.