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‘Teal Pumpkin Project’ raises awareness of food allergies

Saturday night there will be more princess and superheroes roaming the street than usual as children around the country go trick or treating.

But not everyone gets to participate in the holiday – some children with severe food allergies might get left out.

According to Food and Allergy Research Education (FARE), 1 in 13 kids suffer from a food allergy of some kind.

Starting last year, FARE decided to raise awareness of food allergies and find a way those children could still have fun on Halloween with a program called the Teal Pumpkin Project.

“Telling a child no when everybody else gets to do it would be really hard,” said Kourtney Christopher, a participant in the project.

Households that participate can put out a teal pumpkin to identify that they’re a Teal Pumpkin Project house and they’ll hand out toys instead of candy, such as colored pencils, water bottles, or sheets of stickers.

In 2014, households from 50 states and seven countries got involved.

Businesses can participate too – this year the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders has signed up.

Christopher is a training specialist at the Thompson Center and spearheaded the effort to include the Teal Pumpkin Project in its other trick-or-treat plans this year.

“Our families will come around the center and trick or treat different rooms,” she said. “They do have the non-food items as well as the candy items.”

Christopher said she’s looking forward to including all the kids who want to participate.

“Trick or treating is such a big holiday that means so much to kiddos,” she said. “If you don’t have the ability to participate because of severe food allergies, having a small alternative thing that I could change to help them feel included and enhance their experience is so important to me.”

To sign up for Saturday night, you can visit the website.

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