It’s that time of year again — the crisp fall air, leaves crunching underfoot, ghosts and goblins darting about, and terror striking in the hearts of parents of children with food allergies. Yes, it’s Halloween time, and peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, and other food allergens are just waiting to be innocently placed in your children’s trick-or-treat bags.
I’ve written before about my daughter (now 9 1/2 years old) and her food allergies. She has grown up very differently than I did. She sits at a separate lunch table at school. She brings an EpiPen or Auvi-Q wherever she goes. Restaurants are chosen after researching the menu and speaking with managers. “Special” food is brought to friends’ birthday parties.
Nevertheless, she has adapted. She has become a strong advocate for herself and her safety. She loves food and is willing to try new items (after a thorough review of the ingredients list, and questions so complete I’ve considered having her help me prepare for depositions). Still, there are situations that continue to elicit apprehension in her mother and me. One of the big ones is Halloween.
For the most part, friends, family, and neighbors have learned work-arounds for my daughter. And when back at home, my daughter is the benefactor of a trade-in program where she can swap any problem treat for a safe one we’ve purchased in advance. (Often, her chocoholic younger brother is the benefactor.) However, there is something we could all do to ease the anxieties for parents like me: Teal Pumpkin Project®.
The website offers a lot of very useful information, such as non-food treat ideas, ways to spread the word on food allergy safety, basic FAQs on the project, and many other great (and free) resources. I strongly encourage everyone to take a few moments to learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project. Not only can it make Halloween safer for those kids with food allergies, it can also keep it fun!