The Teal Pumpkin Project was started by a local mom in Tennessee before Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) expanded it to a national effort in 2014. The Teal Pumpkin Project aims to raise awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the holiday season. To participate, you provide a non-food treat to trick-or-treaters, place a teal pumpkin in front of your home, and display a free printable sign explaining the meaning of your teal pumpkin.
As a busy parent, I know what it means for me. It means something else to remember. It means time and money picking out affordable and desirable non-candy treats. It means figuring out how to find the time and proper technique to make an orange pumpkin teal. This will be our third year putting out a teal pumpkin with a bowl of bubbles and sun-catchers beside our bowl with candy.
As a parent of a son that is allergic to egg and peanut, it means being grateful for the compassion of others that are willing to go out of their way to include my child and other children with food allergies in their Halloween festivities. Food allergy parents and kids are used to doing their own thing when it comes to food and food-related festivities. We bring our own cupcakes to birthday parties, we keep the school cupboard stocked with safe treats for school-wide events that include food, he sits at a separate table up on a stage for lunch, we bake egg and peanut-free cookies and cakes for all holiday parties, and more often than not, our son has to skip out on some of his favorite foods when we eat out at restaurants. He never complains, he never asks why him. He handles his food allergies with acceptance and grace. As his mother, it is sometimes difficult for me to see him not included, to see him set apart from his peers. So when I heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project, it made me smile to know that there are people willing to spend extra time and money to allow children with life-threatening food allergies to participate in trick-or-treating without fear. So for this mom, the Teal Pumpkin Project means appreciation of the kindness and thoughtfulness of others.
This morning, I asked my son what he would think if we saw a teal pumpkin while we were out trick-or-treating. He laughed, gleefully, and said it would be “awesome,” with a giant smile on his face. So if you were wondering what the Teal Pumpkin Project means to an 8-year-old kid with food allergies, it means a smile so bright it could light up any street.