Courtesy of Abbie Jefferis
The Teal Pumpkin Project
For many kids, collecting candy door-to-door on Halloween night is one of the highlights of the year. But for those with food allergies, trick-or-treating can accentuate feelings of being different or not belonging. The Teal Pumpkin Project
, an initiative of the fundraising and advocacy group Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), aims to make Halloween safe and inclusive for kids with food allergies. The premise of the project, which gets its name from the color that represents food allergy awareness, is simple. Families pledge to offer non-food treats on Halloween night, either instead of or in addition to a candy treat. The non-food items — stickers, bubbles, spider rings, pencils and mini-notebooks are some examples — must be kept in a separate container from the food treats. To participate in the initiative, place a sign with a teal pumpkin on the outside of your house. Download one from FARE here
or make one yourself.
Jericho mom Abbie Jefferis has been working to promote the Teal Pumpkin Project locally. Her 3-year-old son Ollie is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, sunflower, sesame and all legumes except soy. This year she started a blog, Ollergy
, to provide support and resources to parents in similar situations. She shares meal plans, cooking tips, suggestions for holidays and vacations, and more. Having a child with food allergies comes with a unique set of challenges, she says. She recounts being turned away from a local preschool because of Ollie's allergies and leaving a recent store grand opening because the cookies — which weren't allergy safe — weren't contained in a designated area. She doesn't fault the store, she says, but attributes it to a lack of awareness and understanding about food allergies.
This fall, Jefferis has been contacting organizers of local family-focused Halloween events to enlist them in the Teal Pumpkin Project. So far, four have pledged to offer non-food treats and help spread awareness. Last year, Ollie trick-or-treated with his cousins in his grandparents' neighborhood and traded in his candy for safe food treats and small toys provided by his parents at the end of the night. This year, Jefferis hopes that Ollie and kids like him will encounter more houses displaying teal pumpkins when they hit the streets on Halloween night.
These local Halloween events have signed on to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project: