Mommy Minute: Food allergies can make trick-or-treating extra spooky

Courtesy: Teal Pumpkin Project

Heather Donlevy’s 3-year-old son, Braden, is a hero in a half shell.  But even “Leonardo” isn’t immune to a dangerous food allergy.

“Not only can he not ingest the peanut, but he can’t be touched,” she said. “So if a little kid has peanut butter on his hands and would touch Braden, he would break out into hives.”

That makes trick or treating… tricky.

“When we go trick or treating, his sister is a lot older than him, so she knows that we can’t get anything at all that has Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfingers or anything with almonds in it even,” Donlevy said. “So we just say ‘no thank you’ if that’s all they have there.”

It’s because of kids like Braden that there is now a movement called the Teal Pumpkin Project. Putting a teal pumpkin on your porch lets parents know that in addition to candy, you also offer a safe, non-food item.

Courtesy: Teal Pumpkin Project
Courtesy: Teal Pumpkin Project

Giant nutritionist Holly Doan suggests items like crayons, markers, bubbles or yo-yos, which can be found in the candy aisle for often less than $1.

“One in 13 children are estimated to have a food allergy,” Doan said. “So without a doubt you’re going to have a child that has a food allergy come to your house on trick or treat night. So having some things available to them is really important for the parents and the child to feel like they’re involved and can go trick or treating at do it in a safe way.”

Donlevy said people who participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project not only give her peace of mind; they give her son a reason to be excited.

“I think unless your child has a food allergy, it’s tough for not just parents but other individuals to understand how difficult it is and how you worry every single day,” Donlevy said.

For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project, visit

The top eight food allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat and soybeans.

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