Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness for kids with food allergies ahead of Halloween

You place a teal pumpkin on your porch as a signal to families that you have alternatives like toys, or safer candies
Food Allergies

LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)- In just a few days, kids dressed in their favorite characters and costumes will probably be in your neighborhood trick or treating. But not every child can have candies and chocolate due to severe food allergies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in every thirteen children lives with a severe food allergy. It’s something that the Kentucky Families with Food Allergies nonprofit raises awareness about.

“Our goal is to educate people about food allergies. Both people that have food allergies and just the general communities. So that they can be tolerant and understanding about the limitations that food allergy puts on a family, especially children,” says Laura Jackson, who is co-chair of the group.

Two of Jackson’s now adult children have life threatening food allergies. When Jackson’s children were younger, she says trick or treating could be difficult, since many candies contain ingredients they were allergic to.

“There was a craft project where a teacher would be having them spread peanut butter on a pine cone to make a little craft project, and they couldn’t even stay in the room because their allergies were so severe,” says Jackson.

That’s why she participates in the Teal Pumpkin Project. It’s in an initiative making trick or treating more inclusive for children with food allergies. And it’s quite simple to participate.
You place a teal pumpkin on your porch as a signal to families that you are offering alternatives to pass out, like toys or safer candies.

“They can look for the bright teal pumpkins that people will put on their porch. And if you are a parent that lives in a neighborhood and wants to be more inclusive to all children, you don’t even need a teal pumpkin. All you have to do is open your door and say “anybody have a food allergy?” when you’re handing out treats. And the people that do will tell you and you can offer them something that’s safe for them,” says Jackson.

In fact, she says the Kentucky Families has been instrumental in getting epinephrine into schools to help treat kids who have allergic reactions at school. She says through the Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE, there is also a “pal program.” It helps educates children on preventing bullying those with food allergies.

“Some children do get bullied for their food allergies and so as they get older, children about middle school age on tend to hide their food allergies, they don’t want to tell other children about it because they don’t want to be bullied and it has happened,” says Jackson.

It’s all in an effort of making Halloween a little less scary for all kids.

“That’s very limiting but to be able to trick or treat and know that at the end of the night, you’ll have some things in the bag that you can keep as yours means awful lot to a child who gets excluded and feels different most of the time,” says Jackson.

For more information about the Kentucky Families with Food Allergies, click here.

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