What is the Teal Pumpkin Project?

Wondering what the non-orange pumpkins are about?

Teal pumpkin project
If you see a teal pumpkin on doorsteps this Halloween, some kids could be in for a special treat!. Amanda Rock

What's more Halloween than a big orange pumpkin? If the folks at FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) have anything to say about it, teal pumpkins should be joining the traditional gourd of October on porches and in windows across the nation.

The Teal Pumpkin Project, which was started in 2014, is an initiative designed to make Halloween inclusive for all children who wish to participate, especially those with food allergies.

Instead of handing out candy (or alongside handing out candy) households who participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project agree to also hand out non-food treats to trick-or-treaters, such as small toys, necklaces, glowsticks, and other fun items. To make it clear to those who are out on Halloween that the house is "safe," participants place a teal pumpkin near their Halloween decorations and also print out a sign indicating that treats are of the non-food variety.

For parents of kids who have food allergies and sensitivities, Halloween can be fraught with worry and emotions. Parents want their kids to have fun and be "normal" and "like the other kids," but for kids with allergies, especially life-threatening ones that can be triggered even by being in close proximity to an allergen, the prospect of sending your child door-to-door to collect unknown treats can be terrifying. The whole event gets even more compounded by children who may not understand their condition or people who mean well, but could knowingly put a child in danger.


"Halloween can be a tricky time for families managing food allergies because many traditional Halloween treats aren’t safe for children with life-threatening food allergies," writes FARE on their website. "The Teal Pumpkin Project is designed to promote safety, inclusion and respect of individuals managing food allergies.

This nationwide movement offers an alternative for kids with food allergies, as well as other children for whom candy is not an option, and keeps Halloween a fun, positive experience for all!"

Households who wish to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween should do the following:

  • Take the Teal Pumpkin Project pledge.
  • Talk about the project on social media, so others can learn about the initiative as well. 
  • Consider adding your address to FARE's crowd-sourced map, so trick-or-treaters know where to stop by.
  • Buy a plastic teal pumpkin, or buy an orange pumpkin and paint it teal.
  • Buy non-food treats to hand out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
  • Download a sign from FARE to indicate what the Teal Pumpkin Project is (you can also download stickers, stencils, and more from the site). You'll need these materials on Halloween.
  • Place the teal pumpkin and the sign you downloaded outside your door on Halloween so it is visible from the street to trick-or-treaters. This is important, you want people to know it is safe to come to your house!
  • Hand out your collection of non-food treats to all the kiddies who come to your door.
  • Have fun!

FARE reports that last year they had participants from all 50 states as well as 7 countries. The goal for 2015 is to have over 100,000 families participate. 

While the Teal Pumpkin Project is a wonderful, big step in the right direction, it is still very important that parents of children with food allergies still regularly discuss what foods are OK to eat and what needs to be avoided. This is especially important around holidays such as Halloween, when kids are often given access to special foods and treats away from the close supervision of a parent or caregiver. 

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