Halloween is almost here and neighborhoods are bursting with festive spirit. As you stroll down streets lined with jack-o-lanterns, you'll likely notice something new - teal-colored pumpkins dotting front porches.
At first glance, these aqua gourds seem to simply be joining the autumn decoration trend. But they actually signify something important.
As a parent of a child, Halloween used to make me anxious. When my son was young we thought he may have had a nut and egg allergies. Could he enjoy trick-or-treating without risking exposure?
A nonprofit called FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) came up with a clever solution - the Teal Pumpkin Project.
By placing a painted teal pumpkin outside your home, you indicate that you offer non-food treats. This enables all children to partake safely, including the 1 in 13 kids who have food allergies according to research from FARE.
What started small in 2012 has blossomed into a widespread national effort embraced by thousands.
Walking around my neighborhood and seeing teal speckled amid the orange, I'm heartened. The prominence of these special pumpkins shows that more and more people recognize the need for an inclusive approach on Halloween.
With awareness and participation, we can ensure all kids get to make magical memories.
The Origins of the Teal Pumpkin Project
The Teal Pumpkin Project was started in 2012 by a Tennessee mother named Becky Basalone. Basalone wanted to raise awareness about food allergies and make trick-or-treating safer for children like her own son, who had several life-threatening allergies.
After doing online research, Basalone learned that teal was the official color representing food allergy awareness. She decided to buy some teal spray paint and paint a pumpkin teal to place on her porch for Halloween. This indicated to trick-or-treaters that she offered non-food treats.
Basalone's simple idea quickly gained nationwide attention. In 2014, the non-profit organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) began promoting and officially sponsoring the Teal Pumpkin Project. They created print materials, a website, and resources to spread the word.
Since those early days, the Teal Pumpkin Project has grown tremendously. What started as one Tennessee family's awareness campaign has blossomed into a movement embraced across the U.S. and beyond.
Teal pumpkins can now be seen adorning front porches each October in neighborhoods, towns, and cities coast to coast.
Joining the Teal Pumpkin Movement
Want to ensure trick-or-treaters with food allergies feel included this Halloween? Displaying a teal-colored pumpkin is a simple way to spread awareness and offer safe treats.
Come October, visit a craft store to pick up a pumpkin and teal paint. You can also find pre-painted teal gourds in many stores and online shops. Place your painted pumpkin prominently on your porch or front door to publicize the allergy-friendly goodies you'll provide.
Consider giving out non-food treats like glow sticks, stamps, or spooky pencils. You can also have a separate bowl of allergen-free candy for kids who say they have food allergies. Offering just a couple options shows you care about making Halloween fun for all children.
FARE provides free promotional flyers and posters to help spread the word. By displaying a teal pumpkin, you identify yourself as an allergy-aware household looking out for all kids this Halloween.
The Impact of the Teal Pumpkin Project
The Teal Pumpkin Project has made a significant positive impact since its inception. It has brought widespread awareness to food allergies and increased safety for trick-or-treating.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), in 2014 - the first year of the nationwide Teal Pumpkin Project - there were only about 800 households participating. That number has climbed exponentially.
In 2021, around 15,600 households in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C., placed a pin on the map. This dramatic growth shows the surging popularity of the Teal Pumpkin Project across the country.
The increased visibility of teal pumpkins has also sparked countless conversations about food allergies. Since many people were unaware of the meaning behind teal pumpkins at first, it provided an opportunity to educate others.
Most importantly, the Teal Pumpkin Project has allowed children with food allergies to enjoy Halloween without fear. Kids who otherwise may have had to miss out can now trick-or-treat and feel included, thanks to awareness spread by teal pumpkins.
While food allergies still pose risks, the Teal Pumpkin Project has had an undeniable positive impact for millions of children. It has set a standard for inclusive and safe Halloween celebrations.
Spreading Awareness Beyond Halloween
While the Teal Pumpkin Project originated as a Halloween awareness campaign, its impact reaches far beyond October 31st. The project has brought year-round attention to the challenges of food allergies.
Many schools, offices, and community organizations now display teal pumpkins even after Halloween is over. This promotes ongoing education and inclusion for those with food allergies.
Teal has become a shorthand signal that food allergy accommodations are available.
The Teal Pumpkin Project has also inspired new creative solutions to make daily life safer for children with allergies.
For example, some bakeries sell specially decorated teal birthday cakes that are allergen-free. When kids see the teal coloring, they know it's a treat they can enjoy.
Non-profit groups like Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) utilize teal pumpkin imagery in their advocacy and education programs beyond October. Teal pumpkins have become a launchpad for broader conversations about accommodating dietary restrictions in all settings.
While born out of a need to make Halloween more inclusive, the Teal Pumpkin Project has grown into so much more. It has fundamentally raised awareness of food allergies and set an example of how small acts of compassion can make a world of difference.
For millions of children, teal pumpkins are not just a Halloween symbol but a year-round message of hope.
Looking Ahead and Getting Involved
The Teal Pumpkin Project has seen tremendous growth in just a decade. But there is still ample room for the campaign to expand its reach and impact in the future.
In the years ahead, the organization aims to enlist more households, schools, businesses, and community groups to participate. Some goals include doubling their number of registered locations and increasing visibility in Canada and internationally.
There are many ways individuals can get involved beyond simply displaying a teal pumpkin:
- Volunteering with the Teal Pumpkin Project to help spread the word locally
- Helping map registered teal pumpkin houses in your neighborhood
- Sharing about the project on social media to boost awareness
- Having children make informational flyers or posters for school
- Donating allergy-friendly non-food treats to hand out
- Reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors to promote participation
- Contacting schools and community organizations about taking part
With greater visibility and participation, the Teal Pumpkin Project hopes to create even more inclusive, allergy-aware Halloween celebrations.
Teal Pumpkin Project FAQs
The Teal Pumpkin Project has rapidly grown in popularity, but some people still have questions about its purpose and how it works. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions:
What exactly is the Teal Pumpkin Project?
It is an awareness campaign to promote inclusion for trick-or-treaters with food allergies. Placing a teal pumpkin indicates you will offer non-food treats.
Who started the Teal Pumpkin Project?
It was started in 2012 by a Tennessee mother named Becky Basalone who wanted to raise awareness about food allergies.
Why are the pumpkins teal?
Teal is the official color representing food allergy awareness. It was chosen to stand out against traditional orange pumpkins.
Where can I get a teal pumpkin?
Teal spray paint can be found at most craft stores. Many retailers also sell pre-painted teal pumpkins in autumn. Check online for options too.
What are some non-food treats to hand out?
Fun options include glow sticks, bubbles, stamps, spider rings, stickers, pencils, and more. Get creative!
Should I avoid candy with allergens altogether?
You don't have to avoid specific candies, but having a teal pumpkin signals you also provide a non-food option.
Do I need to register or join something to participate?
Nope - just paint or purchase a teal pumpkin and place it outside your home!
The Teal Pumpkin Project has become an inspiring Halloween tradition that promotes inclusion, awareness, and safety. What began in 2012 as one Tennessee mother's simple idea has blossomed into a widespread phenomenon uniting communities coast to coast.
For families managing food allergies, the mysterious teal pumpkins popping up each October are a welcome sight. They signify that children who otherwise may have been confined to their homes can now join in the beloved ritual of trick-or-treating.
Teal pumpkins have allowed kids with food allergies to feel a sense of belonging rather than isolation.
Beyond Halloween, the Teal Pumpkin Project has brought year-round attention to the challenges of managing and accommodating food allergies in all facets of life.
The vibrant teal color has become a universal symbol of support and acceptance for the millions of children and adults affected by allergies.
This simple act of painting a pumpkin has demonstrated that small gestures of compassion can transform lives.
As the Teal Pumpkin Project continues to grow, someday soon it may reach the point where no child has to miss out on the magic and community of Halloween night.