Teal pumpkins make Halloween happy for kids with food allergies

Trick-or-treating is an annual tradition kids across America look forward to. But Halloween can be harder to enjoy for children with food allergies.

The Teal Pumpkin Project, now in its third year, is helping kids like 6-year-old Lukas Mazur and millions of other children who feel left out.

Lukas loves sweets but he has a severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. It’s turned Halloween into a drag, he told CBS News.

“Your friends can have all of these great treats, but you have a nut allergy, so you can’t eat all that stuff,” he said.

But this year, Lukas can’t wait to put on his costume. He showed CBS News’ Kenneth Craig the teal-painted pumpkin on his front step — a welcome sign for trick-or-treaters like him with food allergies. It’s a signal that a home is handing out non-food treats, such as stickers, light sticks, and brightly colored bracelets.

The campaign was initiated by the non-profit organization Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE).

“With one in 13 kids having a food allergy here in the U.S., chances are that one of these kids lives right down your block,” said FARE’s Nancy Gregory.

Inspired by efforts in an east Tennessee town, the Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to paint a pumpkin teal — an aqua-blue hue — or download and print a free sign to place outside of their house on Halloween. That way, kids with food allergies and their parents will know there’s an allergy-friendly Halloween treat at those homes.

The number of homes participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is growing each year. FARE’s ultimate goal is to have at least one teal pumpkin on every block in America.

“I think it would be incredible if it can happen,” said Lukas’ mom, Jayme Mazur.

Their home is the first on their street to embrace the teal pumpkin, but she and Lukas are hopeful others will join in.

“It makes me happy that people do it, so I can be included with Halloween,” Lukas said.

The Teal Pumpkin Project has an interactive map online where families can locate participating homes in their area. Last year, homes from all 50 states and 14 countries joined in.

The benefits of the Teal Pumpkin Project go beyond kids with food allergies. Kids with diabetes, celiac disease, and children with other food restrictions can enjoy these Halloween treats, too, when candy may not be an option.

Copyright (c) 2016 CBS All Rights Reserved


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