If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how to "do the Teal Pumpkin Project", I would be rich! I am excited to share with you how easy and affordable it is to include all children on Halloween.
Started in Tennessee...
Food allergy mom and director of the Food Allergy Community of East TN, Becky Basalone, started the Teal Pumpkin Project in the fall of 2012. She wanted all children to enjoy trick-or-treating in her Knoxville community and came up with the idea to paint pumpkins teal, the color for food allergy awareness, and display on Halloween to let the community know you have non-food items for lil' goblins who have food allergies. Genius! Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) was so impressed they took it over as a national campaign.
Why it matters...
I have been asked why the Teal Pumpkin Project is needed, "Why can't you just pick out what your child can't have?" Unfortunately, that does not work for everyone. Food allergies and reactions vary greatly and families manage them based on their specific circumstances.
Now on to the how...
Still on the fence?
If you are still on the fence, let me answer other concerns I have heard...
Concern: "But it costs so much more than candy, I can't afford to do it."
Solution: This is not true! A bulk bag of Halloween candy can cost $20-$40. A bulk bag of glow sticks costs $10. You can purchase inexpensive glow sticks, bead necklaces, stickers, mini bubbles, spider rings, fangs and witch fingers. Some of my personal favorites are purchased online at Oriental Trading Company and at my local Dollar Tree (remember to look on the party favor AND Halloween aisles).
Concern: "How do I know which goblins to give toys to?"
Solution: You will know. They will look for teal pumpkins and be so excited to see one that they will say something to you. Or they may hug you, either way, you will know. I like to tape the sign I printed to the bowl of non-food goodies to make it more obvious. You can also ask who needs a teal pumpkin treat and when you hear an "I do!" behind that cute Captain America mask, you will know that little goblin needs a toy instead.
Concern: "I don't have many trick-or-treaters so I don't want to spend money on both candy and toys."
Solution: Try just toys then! We did toys and candy last year and allowed every child to choose, we had a lot of candy left over and no leftover toys. Even teenagers chose bubbles! This year, we will only offer toys. The best part is I bought them last year after Halloween on clearance.
I encourage you to try it and I think you will find that you enjoy it more than the children do. And they may not tell you at that moment, but that teal pumpkin gives you the status of Halloween Hero!
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Food for Thought is the blog for the Food Allergy Alliance of the Mid-South. FAAM's mission is to provide food allergy support, education, advocacy, fellowship & fun for Memphis, TN and surrounding areas.
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