The Teal Pumpkin Project 

by Erin

It’s not the candy, it’s the carbs.

After Grasshopper’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes I was so worried about Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Easter… all these holidays that focus on food, lots of food, lots of carby goodness like mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pies, rolls, and candy everywhere.

The assumption often is, “Grasshopper can’t eat candy because he has type 1 diabetes.”

The short answer is, “He can and does eat candy. There are times sugar can literally save his life.” The long answer is, “It gets a bit complicated.” I’ll save the details of that for another post.

At a neighborhood Halloween party involving a lot of running around, a bounce house and much excitement, Grasshopper’s blood sugar dropped to a low of 41. Newly won candy came to the rescue.

We don’t have any food allergies in our family but we participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project for a variety of reasons. The project was begun by theFood Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET) and in 2014 it was launched as a national campaign by Food, Allergy, Research & Education (FARE). In those three years has gained tremendously in popularity. The mission is to provide alternatives to food treats, many of which contain allergens, so that children with food allergies can safely enjoy Halloween along with their friends without allergies. The method is simple: Choose one of the FARE Teal Pumpkin Project signs or flyers to print and display at your door for Halloween. A variety of posters include those that announce “Non-Food Treats Available Here,”“We Have Candy and Non-Food Treats,” and “Toys and Treasures.”The sign advertises to trick-or-treaters in the know that you have safe alternatives for kids with food allergies.

You may also purchase a plastic teal pumpkin (now found at big box stores like Michael’s, or Target thanks to FARE) or paint a real pumpkin teal.

Purchase small toys, glow sticks, erasers, pencils, bouncy balls, etc, instead of or in addition to candy and offer non-food items in a separate container away from food to avoid cross contamination from any allergens in the food treats. Plenty of options are found online at Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Oriental Trading, for about the same price you would pay for a bag of candy. Search for Halloween toys, Teal Pumpkin treats, or non-food Halloween treats.

Emojis were a fun choice this year.

Food allergies are real, they are frightening and they aren’t just an inconvenience. They can be life threatening. We have friends whose youngest son has a plethora of food allergies. He is allergic to 7 of the top 8 food allergens plus sesame. My friends have been in the terrifying situation in which their young son, who only just turned 2, has had severe anaphylactic reactions to allergens which cause him to scratch all over, throw up, and closed his airway. What makes the situation even more frightening is that because of his age he is unable to tell how he feels when he is having an allergic reaction. We are happy to be a safe trick-or-treat house for our little friend and for other children in our area. The Teal Pumpkin Project happens to also benefit others without food allergies, such as children with:

  • Food intolerances
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)
  • Celiac disease
  • Food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES)
  • Feeding tubes
  • Any child on a special diet

Even without type one diabetes or food allergies in our lives I like the idea of offering alternatives for Halloween, like small toys, stickers, pencils, etc. I don’t like having such a glut of candy. We don’t have a lot of candy in the house, but it has nothing to do with type 1 diabetes. I don’t like to have it there because I’m the one who will end up eating it! I also like that whatever non-food treats don’t go into an eager trick-or-treater’s bucket can be stored and used for next year. None of this takes away from the fun of Halloween, it just lets others participate. And of course no one has to offer alternatives, just like no one has to give out candy. Those who can’t safely eat food treats will pass by and look for a teal pumpkin and fun treasures at the next house. We’ll be waiting to welcome them and relish the excitement of the night with them!

One Comment

  1. […] This project encourages people to support these children and families by offering non-food treats like bubbles, glow sticks, erasers, pencils, stickers, bouncy balls, and many other low cost options. These treasures may be offered instead of candy and food treats or in a separate bowl if you choose to hand out both options. Click here to see what non-food treats we offered in 2017 in addition to candy. […]



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