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November 2019
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Kids with food allergies love Halloween too

Mom fights to raise awareness about Teal Pumpkin Project

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What kid doesn’t love trick-or-treating? It’s one of the highlights of the year for children who rack up on candy bars and other sweet treats – but for some kids, like three-year-old Dylan Kirchen, trick-or-treating comes with risks. That’s because Dylan has food allergies that can cause serious health problems if he eats the wrong thing. 

Now his mom, Lisa Kirchen, wants to promote the Food Allergy Research & Education’s “Teal Pumpkin Project,” which tries to raise awareness about food allergies and to create a safer, more inclusive Halloween for kids like Dylan. 

Lisa spent the afternoon Tuesday asking businesses on Main Street in Jasper, which participate in the downtown trick-or-treating event on Halloween, to display teal, plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins alongside their traditional candy bowls. By displaying the teal pumpkin, an individual or business shows that they have non-food, allergy-sensitive items available.

According to FARE, “Food allergies are a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease, and a growing public health issue. In the U.S., one in 13 children has a food allergy – that’s roughly two in every classroom. For these children, even a tiny amount of their allergen has the potential to cause a severe reaction.

Last year Lisa’s son was young enough that she could switch out his trick-or-treat candy with safer options unnoticed. “

This year, I think he’s going to realize what’s going on,” she said. “I was asking friends online about alternatives and they told me, ‘You need to find out about the Teal Pumpkin Project, so I’m trying to do what I can to let other parents know about it.” Lisa said there are teal pumpkins and a plethora of non-food Halloween items available locally at places like Walmart, and allergy-sensitive treats at the Natural Market Place in downtown Jasper. 

Learn more about the Teal Pumpkin Project at www.foodallergy.org, where you will find an interactive map with locations that have non-food trick-or-treat items. You can add your address while you’re there if you participate. 

Ideas for non-food items from Food Allergy Research & Education: Glow sticks, bracelets, or necklaces, pencils, pens, crayons or markers, bubbles, Halloween erasers or pencil toppers, mini Slinkies, whistles, kazoos, or noisemakers, bouncy balls, finger puppets or novelty toys, coins, spider rings, vampire fangs, mini notepads, playing cards, bookmarks, stickers, stencils.