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Teal Pumpkins Help Oregon Children with Food Allergies

A teal pumpkin indicates a food allergy-safe stop for trick-or-treaters. Courtesy: FARE
A teal pumpkin indicates a food allergy-safe stop for trick-or-treaters. Courtesy: FARE

October 28, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - Halloween can be more tricks than treats for children suffering from food allergies. Some Oregon homes are joining others around the nation to make trick-or-treating a safe and inclusive experience by pledging to pass out non-food items.

An estimated one-in-13 children suffers from a food allergy, which Veronica LaFemina, vice president for communication at Food Allergy Research and Education, said can be life-threatening.

"That means having to read every label for every food you may consume," she said. "That means every meal of every day, of every snack. And so this is something that affects all areas of life for the children and families managing this disease."

The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to pass out non-food treats to little ones and to place a teal pumpkin outside the home to indicate there are allergy-safe items available. An interactive map of homes in Oregon that have pledged to participate is available at foodallergy.org.

Tens of thousands of households across the country have signed the pledge so far this year. LaFemina explained that the project was launched just last year, and interest has rapidly grown among families managing food allergies and others.

"We've also heard great responses from kids and their families who are managing other diseases such as diabetes or celiac disease, ADHD, autism," she said, "so there's a great benefit to many, many children."

She said there are many fun non-food treats that can be passed out, including glow sticks, pencils, stickers, spider rings and bubbles.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - OR