Why I Support the Teal Pumpkin Project and Why You Should Too

No matter where I am, if I am feeding someone else’s children, I always run the food items by the parents first. I try to be super thoughtful and sensitive to food allergies.  While my children do not have any life-threatening allergies, one of my best friend’s daughters does, and this has made me hyper-sensitive to the topic. According to the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) website (foodallergy.org), she is one of 15 million Americans living with food allergies.

When my friend’s family came to visit me a few years back, I had to clear my entire house of all nuts.  I also had a cleaning service come to make sure that there were no traces of nuts in the house. It was that serious.  Thank goodness my friend is hyper-vigilant, and her daughter can express her own allergies, but regardless, her allergies are scary and need to be dealt with in a very serious way.

Being a working mom can occasionally give you a sense of control over your environment that is, shall we say, deceptive. As a mom-boss, I can run a department with confidence and boundless energy, but kids are not employees, and the dinner table is not the boardroom. Nothing reminds me of this contradiction more than the idea of food allergies. Deadlines can feel like life-or-death at times, but for my friend’s daughter, and others like her, every new situation actually may mean life or death.

With Halloween almost here, I think about her and how trick-or-treating is not the same for her as it is for my children.  My kids are beyond excited to put on their costumes (this year they are scary mummies), take their trick-or-treating bags in their hands and parade around our neighborhood. Their worries revolve around whether or not someone is home, what type of candy they have, and who gets to ring the doorbell. My worries center around being home from work in time to take them trick-or-treating and making sure they are not arguing too much to ruin our time together.  For children who have severe allergies, however, they either have to boycott trick-or-treating altogether, have a route mapped out with pre-approved candy, or look for teal pumpkins outside of people’s houses.

What does a teal pumpkin mean, you ask? It’s a sign that that home has a non-food treat option for trick-or-treaters.  This means any small toy, glow stick, sticker, etc. The FARE website also has a long list of non-food options (https://www.foodallergy.org/education-awareness/teal-pumpkin-project/ideas-non-food-treats).  Further, there is an amazing feature where you can register your home as a “teal pumpkin home,” and you can even look up all “teal” homes in your area. This entire idea started with a mother, Becky Basalone, in Tennessee in 2012. She was the director of her local food allergy support group. In an article on AllergicLiving.com, Becky stated:  

“As a parent, I pray that my actions have a positive impact on my children, but I had never imagined that this act of love would reach so far and impact so many,” says Basalone. “It is definitely accomplishing its mission of raising awareness and it has united the food allergy community to stand strong in support of our children.”

We really hope that this Halloween you will consider putting a teal pumpkin outside of your home to spread awareness of the Teal Pumpkin Project. This small act could help a child in your neighborhood have the best Halloween yet!