Video: Teal Pumpkin Project Includes Food Allergic Children At Halloween

JAMESTOWN-A world-wide initiative to allow children with food allergies to participate in, and enjoy, trick-or-treating this Halloween has caught on across the country but local participation is down.

The Teal Pumpkin Project is allowing participants to offer non-food treats for ghosts and goblins with food allergies. Participants place a teal-colored pumpkin on their porch to let trick-or-treaters know they offer a non-food alternative.  It’s part of a new initiative from Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in which participating families offer non-edible treats for youngsters who may not be able to eat many popular and traditional treats. Organizers suggest offering toy rings, stickers, playing cards, glow sticks or other non-edibles as substitutes.

According to the project’s website, locally there are only four participants in Jamestown, three in the Dunkirk and Fredonia communities and one in Kiantone.  The latest County Health Assessment for Chautauqua County found that 19 percent of school age children in the community are obese and 16 percent are considered overweight. The state average is 17.6 percent. Including adults, 29 percent of the population is obese and 32 percent are overweight.

The campaign is being organized by FARE, which is a food allergy advocacy organization. FARE is distributing posters designed to explain the campaign.

“The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies – and to keep Halloween a fun, positive experience for all,” the organization posted on its web site. The project was started in 2014.

“It has been absolutely amazing to see families continue to embrace the Teal Pumpkin Project, whether they are personally affected by food allergies or not,” said Lois A. Witkop, Chief Advancement Officer at FARE. “We know that it’s making a difference in so many lives and we are thrilled to grow this campaign on behalf of children who have food allergies, which are potentially life-threatening.”

This year, FARE sent customized Teal Pumpkin Project kits to 225 elementary schools in various cities across the nation. More than 40 million children go trick-or-treating every year. FARE suggests not letting children eat any treats until parents or guardians sort them at home. They also recommend avoiding foods with no ingredient label and read all labels fully.