ASHBURN, Va. (WDVM) — Most kids look forward to Halloween, but for children with life-threatening medical conditions Halloween can be anything but a treat. It can be especially dangerous for those with food allergies.
“There’s that sadness that they can’t fully enjoy something fun,” said Andrea Morello, an Ashburn resident.
Morello’s young son was born with allergies to four of the top eight food allergies that are recognized by the FDA for labeling such as milk, soy, dairy and nuts.
“That greatly restricted what he could have as far as the candy…You have to watch their hull like a hulk and make sure they don’t pick up anything that could cause a dangerous reaction,” Morello said.
The dietary restrictions made Halloween tricky until Morello discovered the Teal Pumpkin Project, a world-wide movement where you put a teal pumpkin on your doorstep to signals that your home has non-food treats in addition to candy for children with life-threatening food allergies.
In 2014, the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) organization launched the initiative nationwide as a way to make Halloween safer, and happier for all. According to FARE’s CEO, Lisa Gamble, the simple accommodations can make a big difference.
“Halloween is the holiday that every kid in America look forward to. As an alternative, we ask that they have a separate bucket of non-food treats really what every fits your pocket because children just get excited to be part of the process.”
Morello began participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project in 2018 and says it’s something she looks forward to every year.
“There was one little girl that was so excited that I was giving non-food items that she almost gave me a hug and it was that moment that I was like yeah I gotta do this again because I know there’s a real sense of exclusion.”