YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Halloween is a spooky time of year, but for kids with food allergies, it can be frightening.
As a mother to a son with food allergies, Jody Klase is careful about what her son eats every day. Her 8-year-old son Carson is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs, making monitoring his eating difficult, especially during the holidays.
“The holiday time, it seems to obviously escalate our need for being vigilant,” she said.
Heidi Redmond’s 12-year-old son Hunter also has to stay away from peanuts. The family started their own business, Peanut Free, which manufacturers almond butter sold in local grocery stores.
Redmond said Hunter has been vigilant during Halloween, so he does not have an allergic reaction.
“He would walk up and he would say, ‘Trick or Treat. No peanuts, please,'” Redmond said
Both mothers said they want their sons to be able to enjoy Halloween, just like every other kid. They know what they can and cannot eat, and, with candies like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers, that can leave a lot of options out.
A relatively new national campaign by Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) hopes to raise awareness about food allergies this holiday season through The Teal Pumpkin Project. The project promotes inclusion for all trick-or-treaters — even those with food allergies — by asking households to give out toys or other non-food items to those with food allergies who cannot enjoy Halloween candy.
Those participating in the project put a teal pumpkin in their yard to indicate that they have these non-food treats available.The project started in 2014, with households in 50 states and seven countries participating.
FARE said one in 13 children have food allergies, and reactions to a certain food can be serious. An allergic reaction can include anything from lip swelling and drooling to anaphylaxis, which can stop breathing.
Klase said she is excited for the project. She suggested a few items for parents who may not know what to pass out during Halloween.
“Anything from little matchbox cars — it can be very inexpensive — to bubbles, pencils, anything that you could pick up at the dollar store,” she said
“Something that isn’t going to harm them is always nice too. If someone can be creative with that and maybe even stick with a Smarties or Starburst,” Redmond said.
Both moms said they support The Teal Pumpkin Project and hope having the nontraditional pumpkins starts a conversation.