The Teal Pumpkin Project :: Include All Goblins This Year
by Guest Blogger Kelley Barnett (Adapted for Food Allergy Families of Northeast Florida)
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how to "do the Teal Pumpkin Project", I would be rich! I am excited to share with you how easy and affordable it is to include all children on Halloween.
Started in Tennessee...
Food allergy mom and director of the Food Allergy Community of East TN, Becky Basalone, started the Teal Pumpkin Project in the fall of 2012. She wanted all children to enjoy trick-or- treating in her Knoxville community and came up with the idea to paint pumpkins teal, the color for food allergy awareness, and display on Halloween to let the community know you have non-food items for lil' goblins who have food allergies. Genius! Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) was so impressed they took it over as a national campaign.
Why it matters...
I have been asked why the Teal Pumpkin Project is needed, "Why can't you just pick out what your child can't have? Unfortunately, that does not work for everyone. Food allergies and reactions vary greatly and families manage them based on their specific circumstances.
- Some families trick-or- treat and pick out the candy that is not safe. However, this can be difficult when individually wrapped candies do not include ingredient labels.
- Some children are allergic to multiple foods and safe options may be even more limited.
- Some children have had reactions simply by touching their allergens. We have all opened a bag of bulk candy only to see torn wrappers or some that are not sealed completely. Some parents fear this may allow allergens to touch the "safe candy" in the bowl.
- Some families do not see the risk being greater than the reward. For families with younger children especially, who ALWAYS have their hands in their mouths, a holiday like Halloween produces so much anxiety it is not worth the trouble.
- Some children do not have food allergies yet cannot eat candy. A food-centered holiday is also difficult for children with feeding tubes, certain sensory challenges, and diabetes.
- Every parent wants their child to enjoy life and participate in fun, holiday traditions, which is why the Teal Pumpkin Project is important to us.
Now on to the how...
Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is as easy as 1-2- 3!
1. Create a teal pumpkin to display at your front door for trick or treaters to see. You have many options. You can buy a pumpkin and paint it teal, you can buy a pre-painted teal pumpkin from Michaels, you can simply draw a teal pumpkin with crayons or markers, or you can even print out a free teal pumpkin sign at Teal Pumpkin Project.
2. Purchase non-food treats and place them in a bowl separate from your candy. You can find inexpensive novelty items everywhere, and many of them come in multi-packs at prices from $1 to $3, which is less than most bags of candy. You can order online or look on the party favor and Halloween aisles of your local stores. Most homes are likely to be prepared to accommodate food allergic trick or treaters by having 10 to 20 non-food treats on hand, but you may be fully prepared with as little as 3 to 5 items. It depends on the size of your neighborhood and how many trick or treaters you expect to see.
3. Be sure your teal pumpkin or teal pumpkin sign is visible, and be prepared to welcome some very grateful little goblins on Halloween! Click HERE for the details about the Teal Pumpkin Project, including free downloads and social media cards. You can even add your address to the Teal Pumpkin Project map!
Still on the fence?
If you are still on the fence, let me answer other concerns I have heard...
- Concern: "But it costs so much more than candy, I can't afford to do it."
Solution: This is simply not true! A multi-pack bag of glow sticks can be purchased from most dollar stores for as little as $1. You can purchase other inexpensive items such as glow sticks, bead necklaces, stickers, mini bubbles, spider rings, fangs and witch fingers at very reasonable prices. Some of my personal favorites are purchased online at Oriental Trading Company and at my local Dollar Tree (remember to look on the party favor AND Halloween aisles).
- Concern: "How do I know which goblins to give toys to?"
Solution: You will know. They will look for teal pumpkins and be so excited to see one that they will say something to you. Or they may hug you, either way, you will know. I like to tape the sign I printed to the bowl of non-food goodies to make it more obvious. You can also ask who needs a teal pumpkin treat and when you hear an "I do" behind that cute Captain America mask, you will know that little goblin needs a toy instead. I encourage you to try it and I think you will find that you enjoy it more than the children do. And they may not tell you at that moment, but that teal pumpkin gives you the status of Halloween Hero!
Download your Teal Pumpkin Project FREE Printable Sign, pumpkin carving stencil, stickers, and flyers for bag inserts below:
This article was originally published on Food for Thought on October 19, 2016. Content has been edited with the author's permission to be used by Food Allergy Families of Northeast Florida and second parties. The TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT® and the Teal Pumpkin Project® logo are registered trademarks of Food Allergy Research Education (FARE).
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