WEST ORANGE, NJ – For many, Halloween offers children the chance to score as many sugary treats as they can in a given timeframe. But for those with food allergies, this customary ritual can be more trick than treat. However, by participating in the Food Allergy Research & Education’s (FARE) Teal Pumpkin Project, homeowners can make Halloween fun, and most importantly--safe for all children. Homeownders in Livingston, West Orange and the West Essex areas are encouraged to participate.

Launched as a national campaign in 2014, FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. By placing a teal-painted pumpkin on the doorstep, or posting one of the organization’s free downloadable ‘Teal Pumpkin Project’ signs on the door or in a window, homeowners can let trick-or-treaters and their families know that they offer non-food treats for children with allergies.

“Food allergy is a life-altering and potentially life-threatening disease affecting 1 in 13 children in the U.S.,” said Veronica LaFemina, vice president of communications at Food Allergy Research & Education. “Pledging to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project is an easy and tangible way to make a big difference for children in your community who are living with food allergies or other conditions that mean candy isn’t an option.”

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Many popular Halloween candies contain nuts, milk, egg, soy or wheat–the most common allergens in children and adults–and many miniature candy items do not have ingredient labels or allergen warnings, making it difficult for parents to determine whether these items are safe.

Additionally, items believed to be ‘safe’ may have been manufactured using the same equipment that processes allergy-ridden items or have been cross contaminated somewhere along the way.

“The Teal Pumpkin Project is an amazing way for kids with various food allergies to enjoy Halloween with less worry. They see a teal pumpkin or a sign and they know they can participate with help from that neighbor,” said South Plainfield resident Kristen Busch, a mom of two boys, ages 5 and 2--each with a different food allergy.

By providing a non-candy alternative, children with food allergies–and their families–can feel safe and included in the fun. Some inexpensive alternatives homeowners can give out include small party favors or toys, stickers, tattoos, glow bracelets, crayons or Halloween-themed pencils–many of which can be purchased at a local dollar store.

“Food allergies continue to be on the rise and I think it is important that families and friends are not only aware but understanding,” said Busch. “Having safe candy/food or non-food items can be a part of your normal Halloween tradition.”

For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project or to download a free sign to post on your door this Halloween, click HERE. To view the Safe Snack Guide, click HERE.