Are you putting out the teal pumpkin for kids who can’t have candy?

12:00 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 Lifestyle
The Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to have non-food treats on hand to give out on Halloween, an accommodation for kids with food allergies or who otherwise can’t eat candy. Photo from Michelle Fandrich.

All kids love Halloween candy right? Well, not really. Some kids cannot have it because of medical conditions or food allergies.

Austinite Marty Barnes started a program with Mommies of Miracles, a support/advocacy group for families with children with complex medical issues, to create awareness that homes could treat more kids if they offered non-candy treats.

Barnes and her husband Tim later founded Casey’s Circle, a local nonprofit organization named after their daughter Casey, who had a brain injury at birth. She had cerebral palsy, blindness and deafness, among other diagnoses. The organization provides typical childhood experiences like birthday parties, Christmas parties to children who are medically fragile.

The idea of providing nonfood treats has caught on. Teal Pumpkin Project from the Food Allergy Research & Education has gone nationwide. Paint a teal pumpkin or put out a teal pumpkin sign and people will know that your house has non-food treats, too. Then add your house to the map of homes that are offering non-free treats. One of the homes on the site this year is Fairview Bed and Breakfast, which is a gluten-free bed-and-breakfast in Travis Heights. Owners Vivian and Jimi Ballard will hand out small toys as well as gluten-free candy.

Barnes recommends offering items such as

You can also put a sticker on your child that says “non-food items only.” That way you don’t have to explain at every door why you can’t take the candy.

If you do need to take the candy and don’t want to be impolite, your child could still benefit from the candy. Many orthodontists participate in the Halloween Candy Buy Back program. I searched my ZIP code and found multiple locations within 10 miles of my house. You also can ask your own orthodontist if his or her office is participating.

You also can donate candy to be sent to people serving in our armed forces.

Soldiers’ Angels, a nonprofit organization based in San Antonio, has a program for businesses to collect leftover Halloween candy and send it to troops.

You can find out which businesses are participating close to you at SoldiersAngels.org/TreatsforTroops as well as sign up your business to collect candy and send it. This year, Soldiers’ Angels wants to collect 17,000 pounds of candy.

There are a lot of great things happening in the world of food allergies. ’Specially for Children, which is affiliated with Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, became a FARE site last year. This means that kids who are at ′Specially for Children can participate in research studies, like a peanut allergy study.

I’ve also written about how to handle school issues when you have a child with a gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease. A lot of the same principles would apply to any food allergy or intolerance. Some of the suggestions:

FARE is holding its Heroes Walk at O’Henry Middle School at 3 p.m. Sunday. It’s free to walk, but donations are appreciated. The goal is to raise $45,000 for food allergy awareness and research.

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