FOOD ALLERGIES MAKE HALLOWEEN EXTRA SCARY FOR SOME
By Liz Gunn || I can’t deny that I love a good awareness campaign. I especially love one that brings to light an issue that people are unaware of or uneducated about. This one hits especially close to home.
Two of my three nieces, four and nearly two years old, have food allergies. They’re allergic to milk and eggs; these are two of the hardest things to avoid, especially for someone under the age of five. Read your labels – you might be surprised at all the things you eat that has one or both of these in them, even some brands of chewing gum!
They were both born with these allergies so it isn’t as if they know what they’re missing, so to speak. But my sister, on the other hand, always has to be prepared for any situation where someone else is offering food to her children; birthday parties, play dates, any meal at a restaurant and of course – Halloween.
Most of us probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of Halloween candy to buy. We either buy what’s on sale or what we like in hopes that there is a little leftover. Many children though, can’t eat some of their hard earned loot thanks to food allergies – peanut and milk allergies are the prime suspects.
One in thirteen children in the United States has a food allergy, and the number has risen by 50 percent in just the last fifteen years. It’s almost impossible not to know someone who is affected by them.
Halloween is all about being scary, but in a fun way. Parents of kids with allergies probably can’t think of anything scarier than their little ghost or goblin getting a mouthful of something tricky rather than a treat. Enter the latest, greatest awareness campaign: The Teal Pumpkin Project.
I have a teal pumpkin on my porch. Actually, I have seven pumpkins on my porch – but one is painted teal. And on Friday night it will be front and center so that people know our house is safe for kids with allergies.
The campaign is raising awareness about the dangers of food allergies, while also giving a little peace of mind to the parents of children who have them. The teal pumpkin says, “I’m giving out allergy-free, non-candy treats!” As a young trick-or-treater, one who didn’t have any food allergies, I may not have been as supportive. But as a parent and as someone who has seen first-hand the anxiety food allergies can cause, I think it’s brilliant and I am so happy to be participating.
The campaign was actually started last year by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. It was so well received that the Food Allergy Research and Education organization (FARE) decided to take the campaign national this year in hopes of generating more awareness.
There isn’t a child (or adult, really) in the world who really needs three pounds of sticky, gooey, gummy, chocolaty candy. Go to the Dollar Tree and get some stickers, press-on tattoos, spider rings or glow sticks. If you just can’t bear the thought of not giving out candy, consider having some of these non-candy treats on hand and at least handing out peanut-free and milk-free candy.
I can assure you the parents of children with food allergies will be so grateful. So will that little ghost or goblin who always has to forfeit half of his or her stash each year. If you want to read up on the campaign you can do so here. They also have a printable sign you can use to let people know you have non-candy treats available, in case you can’t manage to turn your pumpkin teal by Friday.
Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, travel enthusiast, food snob, daydreamer and lifelong Gamecock fan. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.