Pa. (WTAJ) – With Halloween and trick-or-treat just around the corner, many families across Central Pennsylvania are prepping their candy dish, filling it with fan favorites – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats and maybe even some Snickers.
But with food allergies on the rise, these choices can leave some little monsters, superheroes and princesses feeling left out, or even cut their night short with a trip to the emergency room.
One organization is working to make Halloween and trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for those living with dietary restrictions.
The Teal Pumpkin Project is an initiative by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for those affected by food allergies through research, education and advocacy. Through the Teal Pumpkin Project, FARE hopes to make trick-or-treating safer and more inclusive for children living with food allergies by encouraging homes to provide non-food options.
According to the CDC, an estimated 8% of children in the United States have food allergies; that’s one in 13 children. In Pennsylvania, 55% of those living with food allergies fall below the age of 14. Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit academic healthcare organization in Los Angeles, reports that approximately one in every 300 children in the United States has celiac disease – an abnormal immune response to gluten.
There is no cure for food allergies or celiac disease, meaning strict avoidance of the food or food group is the only way to ensure the health and safety of those affected by them.
Every year, the Teal Pumpkin Project creates a map for houses and events offering non-food or treats that are free of the nine major allergens to register their address. This easy to use map allows for parents and guardians of children with food allergies to find allergen-safe places to take their little ones on trick-or-treat night.
For more information on how you can make Halloween safe and inclusive at your home, and to learn more about other FARE initiatives, follow them on Facebook. Don’t forget to register your house if you’ll be participating in Teal Pumpkin Project this year!