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07 Feb, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

Program promotes safe Halloween for children living with food allergies

For some people, goblins and ghosts are the least frightening aspects of Halloween. Many children cannot even go trick-or-treating because they have life-threatening food allergies. This is why Food Allergy & Research Education (FARE) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2014 to allow all kids to enjoy the fun of Halloween. Intially inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee, FARE, the world’s leading non-governmental organization engaged in food allergy advocacy and the largest private funder of food allergy research, aims to improve the quality of life and health of those with food allergies.

According to FARE, one in 13 children in the U.S. has a potentially life-threatening food allergy, while Food Allergy Canada says that there are more than three million Canadians, including almost 500,000 children, living with food allergies that need to be managed on a daily basis. Many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with food allergies as many contain nuts, milk, egg, soy, wheat or sesame. “The number of children with food allergies has risen dramatically over the past 20 years, and the Teal Pumpkin Project brings the community together to ensure a safe and inclusive Halloween for all trick-or-treaters,” said FARE President & Chief Executive Officer Lisa Gable.

An Allergy-Free Halloween

The campaign encourages people to raise awareness about food allergies by providing non-food treats in lieu of chocolate and candy. Those participating are asked to paint a pumpkin teal, the colour of food allergy awareness, and place it outside their house in order to signal that they are providing alternative treats. If you don’t have time to paint a pumpkin, FARE also offers free printable signs you can put outside your house.

Halloween Candy Alternatives

Not sure what kind of treats to offer other than candy? Here are a few things you can purchase:

– glow sticks

– bracelets and necklaces

– bubbles

– notepads and playing cards

– Halloween pencils, erasers and pencil toppers

– vampire fangs

– stickers

– finger puppets or small toys

Even if you want to continue to give out traditional Halloween sweets, consider making two bowls: one with typical fare, and the other with non-food treats. The gesture can go a long way in making Halloween an inclusive experience.

To learn more about FARE, the Teal Pumpkin Project, and how you can help kids with food allergies enjoy Halloween, visit foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project. Participating families can access free printable signs (in French and English), flyers, and materials to help make the most of this year’s Teal Pumpkin Project. And if you’re a Quebec resident, register your house on the Teal Pumpkin Interactive Map so that children with allergies can locate you with ease.

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