A Letter from a Food Allergy Mom about the Teal Pumpkin Project®
Guest Post by Lansingh Hange
Last year, around this time, I saw something on the news about a teal pumpkin. I half-watched the segment and remember thinking it was a cool idea. That was all the attention it got from me. It is hard for me to admit that now and I am ashamed that was all the consideration I gave it because it didn’t personally affect me. I was selfish in thinking that way.
Earlier this year, my 2.5-year-old son was diagnosed with a milk allergy. I quickly learned that is very different than being lactose intolerant. I thought I was going to have to limit his milk intake. I had no idea that his whole diet and our whole lives were about to change. He can longer have his favorites: chicken nuggets, hotdogs, mac & cheese, ranch salad dressing, pizza, & almost all snack foods. I was, and continue to be, so surprised to learn what all contained his allergen. I am unable to go to the grocery store and buy anything without carefully reading the entire ingredient list on the back label in fear that he could have a reaction.
And we are lucky. Since my son’s diagnosis, I joined a support group for parents of kids with food allergies. I have met so many families that have children living with numerous allergies. I have met families that have children with milk, nut, egg, you name it allergies -- all at the same time.
Now, think about next month and think specifically of Halloween. Kids get so excited to dress up and go trick-or-treating with their friends and family. But for some, they may dread the day because it singles them out. Some kids might not go trick-or-treating because of the risks.
When people only have a bucket full of chocolate and assorted candies, they may not realize they are limiting which children can trick-or-treat at their home. That’s why I want to let you know of an exciting alternative you have.
The Teal Pumpkin Project was launched by FARE to combat this exact problem. It is designed to support kids living with food allergies. By displaying a teal pumpkin at your house, you are signaling to food allergy families that you have non-food treats available. You are showing these families and these kids that you care about them. These kids don’t have to feel left out anymore. While their classmates are talking about their plans for the night, these kids can talk about how they to get to go have fun and get some goodies.
My family went shopping this past weekend and we were able to find so many options for under $1. It does not have to be expensive. That bucket you were going to fill with $20 worth of chocolate, I ask you to instead fill it with bouncy balls. Fill it with toy spiders and pumpkins. Fill it with pencils, and bubbles, and stickers. Fill it with treats that every single child walking past your house could enjoy, not just some.
Let’s band together, display our teal pumpkins, and give all kids the opportunity to trick-or-treat this year!
A food allergy mom
What to Read Next
Food allergy mom Vikki Meldrum shares her tips for getting your neighborhood involved with the Teal Pumpkin Project.
There's still time to find families near you who are willing to join the Teal Pumpkin Project®!
The Teal Pumpkin Project continues to grow each year thanks to the efforts of volunteers and members of the community. Here are just a few examples of volunteers who went above and beyond for the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2017.