NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – One in 13 children is dealing with a food allergy, and that can take a lot of the joy out of Halloween.
But more people are now offering alternative treats, while adding a little color to the season as part of the Teal Pumpkin Project.
Halloween is supposed to be fun for everyone, but for so many years, it was a night feared by families of little ones with food allergies — which can be unpredictable and life threatening.
That’s been changing as more people step up to embrace the teal trend and make it a tradition.
As CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported, you can’t miss the brightly colored pumpkins peeking out of Lianne Mandelbaum’s elaborate Halloween display.
“We try to have lots of teal going around and make it as fun as we can,” she told Layton.
But there was a time for her and her son that Halloween was a lot scarier than it should be for anyone.
“It was like constant panic,” she said.
Twelve-year-old Josh is severely allergic to peanuts. So trick or treating was filled with anxiety, because so many candies contain ingredients that could cause him to stop breathing.
“I remember we knocked on door after door after door, and he would look up and say, ‘Is there anything safe for me?’” said Lianne.
“I just didn’t like being left out from having all the fun,” Josh added.
Now in its fourth year, the Teal Pumpkin Project is giving families facing serious food allergies peace of mind. A teal pumpkin outside lets them know there’s a non-food treat available for their kids.
Becky Basalone, of Tennessee, founded the project, which is supported by Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE.
“It is basically a way that we can show support of food allergy families,” she said. “That house has a safe alternative for children with food allergies or other dietary restrictions.”
Lucie Berse, whose 2-year-old has several serious allergies, is thrilled to see the project and the compassion catching on across the country.
“It’s not really just about Halloween or, it’s more people becoming aware of how serious an issue this is,” she said.
For Mandelbaum, the mission is to keep the conversation going.
“Having something like the teal pumpkin that’s wide in its distribution, as far as education of the general public, is really helping. And then I also think the advocacy groups like FARE are doing a great job,” she said.
All while enjoying the exciting of the season safely with her son.
“The Teal Pumpkin really has made Halloween come back to life for me,” Josh said.
Ideas for safe treats include Halloween stickers, pencils and bookmarks. Layton said she hands out pumpkin erasers and little plastic spider rings. They’re not expensive; in fact, you can get them at the Dollar Store.
You can, of course, still hand out candy, but it’s best to do separate bowls.
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