Teal pumpkins spread awareness of food allergies on Halloween

Posted at 6:02 PM, Oct 30, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-30 21:09:08-04

While Halloween is a family-friendly and fun event, the holiday can be stressful for families with kids who have food allergies and can't eat a lot of Halloween candy. 

Every year on Halloween, Karen Hartson puts a teal pumpkin by her front door in northwest Bakersfield. She also gives trick-or-treaters a choice of a candy or a non-food treat. 

It's called the Teal Pumpkin Project - a movement started in 2014 by the Food Allergy Research and Education, FARE. It's purpose is to bring awareness to the nearly 6 million children in the US who have food allergies. 

Hartson is passing out treat bags with Halloween-themed pencils and erasers, glow bracelets, stickers and temporary tattoos.

"And I even got things, fun things like even the little squeezey bath toys," Hartson said. "Just something fun that they can say, 'I got this on Halloween.'"

According to FARE, the prevalence of food allergies in children increased 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. Those children with allergies might feel excluded or different on Halloween when they can't eat the majority - or any - of the candy that's usually passed out.

Hartson's three kids don't have food allergies, but she wanted her home to be safe for those that do. So when the Hartsons put their teal pumpkin by their front door Tuesday night, kids with food allergies know that house is a safe one for them to trick-or-treat.

"It's fun, you get everybody involved and like I said, it's a nice way for our family to show my kids, that we want to include everybody," Hartson said. 

FARE has an online map where people can connect with other participating homes that you can find here.