Teal Pumpkin Project shines a light on children food allergies

WICHITA FALLS - If you are out trick or treating with your children Tuesday night, you may notice teal-colored pumpkins on the front of some doorsteps.

It's part of a nationwide project started about three years ago, raising awareness about food allergies. It's a problem one-in-thirteen children deal with  and it's a way to help keep the kids safe on a night that's supposed to be full of fun.

For many kids, Halloween is a night to collect as much candy as possible but for children with food allergies, it could mean avoiding the treats.

The families have always been aware and often, their only real option was to not allow their child to participate in Halloween," Dr. Terry Johnson said.

But with the Teal Pumpkin Project, it ensures no one gets singled out of the Halloween festivities. A teal pumpkin on a doorstep indicates to neighbors that the home will be distributing allergy-friendly items to children out trick or treating.

"The interesting thing is that most of the food allergies in children are to milk, eggs and peanuts," Johnson said. "Which happen to be a major ingredient in most Halloween candies and so those children getting exposed to those could be life threatening."

Johnson is at  pediatrician at Pediatric Associates and says this project helps raise awareness of the rise in food allergies across the nation.

"In just the 15 year period between 1997 and 2010, there was actually an increase of 50 percent of children with severe food allergies," Johnson said.

"There's all different types. You can have just a little bit of an allergy towards something or it can be very dangerous," United Market Street's Heather Dean said.

Since the project sprouted in 2014, places like United Market Street are promoting the importance of the teal pumpkin.

Living Well Grocery manager Heather Dean says the employees paint the pumpkins to sell and on Halloween eve, they only had two left. 

"What it does is it just lets parents and everyone know that, hey you can come to this store and they'll have something for you, so they can have fun as well," Dean said.

Instead of treats both Dean and Johnson say you can hand out items such as coloring books, crayons glow sticks and stickers, as a few examples. 

For other ways to get involved in the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween, click here.


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