Trick-or-treating with kids who have food allergies? Look for the Teal Pumpkin.

October 25, 2019

It’s the one night of the year that costumed children have permission to race from house-to-house gathering sugary treats, and some tricks. Trick-or-treating is a Halloween tradition in the U.S., connecting neighbors, friends and family. But it can be a true nightmare for those parents whose children suffer from food allergies, some life threatening.

“For my son who suffers from EPIES*, and isn’t able to eat nuts, gluten, and additives like rice syrup, we bypass the treats. We make a big deal out of our costume, and head out to trick-or-treat with him before heading back home where he can hand out glow sticks and temporary tattoos to other kids,” said Jennifer Hatton, mother of three boys. “But over the last several years we have seen more homes with teal pumpkins and signs such as ‘Non-food treats available here’ and are overjoyed to let our son be able to trick-or-treat for items he can safely enjoy.”

What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

The Teal Pumpkin Project has been gaining traction across towns and cities in the U.S. since 2012 when Becky Basalone, the director of a local Tennessee food allergy support group, had the idea of painting a pumpkin teal, the color of food allergy awareness, and handing out non-food items.

Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) loved her “teal take” on Halloween and in 2014 began promoting the “Teal Pumpkin Project” to the media across the country. The teal pumpkin concept went viral on social media, and has grown every year since, creating a new food-allergy friendly tradition.

“Being aware of food allergies and providing food options for those who have them is key to avoiding emergencies,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic Chief Medical Officer. “I am happy to see a program like the Teal Pumpkin Project succeed in creating awareness of food allergies and healthy alternatives.”

How does the Teal Pumpkin project work and how do I participate?

If you want to offer trick-or-treaters an option other than candy, all you have to do is paint a pumpkin teal, place it on your porch or yard so it’s easily seen, and add small toys like temporary tattoos, glow sticks, glow bracelets, spider rings or bouncy balls into your mix of Halloween faire.

According to FARE, there’s four easy steps:

  • Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters
  • Place a teal pumpkin in front of your home to indicate to passersby that you have non-food treats available
  • Add your home to the Teal Pumpkin Project map
  • Spread the word! Share the Teal Pumpkin Project with your friends and family

* Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome is a non-IgE mediated immune reaction in the gastrointestinal system to one or more specific foods, commonly characterized by profuse vomiting and diarrhea.

Texas MedClinic was established in 1982 by Dr. Bernard T. Swift, Jr., as a group medical practice that specializes in urgent care and occupational medicine. Texas MedClinic has grown to 19 locations in San Antonio, New Braunfels, Austin, and Round Rock. Texas MedClinic is staffed with 82 medical providers including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners and over 450 employees.

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