What’s a Teal Pumpkin?
By Rob Sproule
First, a caveat. I’m taking a break from my standard gardening fare to talk about a cause that I’ve only recently learned about but which I think strikes an excellent chord.
Trick or treating with their little ones is an extraordinary rite of passage for parents. But what if your child has for allergies? Nuts, eggs, dairy, and gluten hide under those crinkly wrappers and, while most parents don’t think about it, it can be heartbreaking to deny their kiddos of their treats.
Becky Basalone is a Tennessee mother whose son suffers from severe food allergies. In 2012, she painted her Halloween pumpkin the colour of food allergy awareness: teal. She handed out stickers and glow sticks instead of treats. Her idea caught on.
In 2014, the U.S. based Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) launched the Teal Pumpkin Project and hopes to have a teal pumpkin on every block in United States in 2016. It’s an international initiative that Food Allergy Canada supports and which Canadians are starting to dig into.
What’s the Teal Pumpkin about?
Participating homes display a teal painted pumpkin outside their home. You can carve it if you like, and you can still have an orange one too, of course.
The teal pumpkin tells parents of kids with allergies that you have non-food toys for their little one. You’ll find countless options from the Dollar Store, from glow sticks (good for safety) to erasers, stickers, bouncy balls, stencils, finger puppets, kids’ tattoos and crayons.
All allergies aside, toys are typically a refreshing change of pace for kids from the usual Mars bars and Smarties. The few toys that my son collects are always well loved.
According to a map on FARE’s website (www.foodallergy.org) there are only a few participating houses in Edmonton but, with word spreading quickly, the numbers are growing fast.
If you want to participate, all you need to do is paint a pumpkin and have some toys on offer. FARE encourages you to pin your home on their map. If you’re keen, you can spread the word to your friends and family and display a printable poster, available by searching the Teal Pumpkin Project on FoodAllergyCanada.ca.
Other Halloween Options
Besides teal pumpkins, there are ways for clever parents to provide a fun Halloween for their little ones with allergies. If he/she is still very young, it’s easy to “rig the system” by opening a conversation with friends, family and neighbours about providing either non-food treats or treats that are safe.
Initiatives like this only work if people talk about them. If you support the Teal Pumpkin project, put one on your doorstep early and tell people why you’re doing it. I think that the more people know about this, the faster it will spread, until kids with food allergies can have the same kind of Halloween fun as we enjoyed.