For most kids, Halloween is a dream come true: dressing up, parties, and of course, trick-or-treating.
But for kids with food allergies, the holiday can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, shellfish, fish, and soy. Those are all foods that can be in candy that homes hand out and can cause a child to go into anaphylactic shock.
The Teal Pumpkin Project, launched in 2014 by the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization, is meant to help kids with food allergies stay safe this Halloween. Homes can put out a teal colored pumpkin in their yard or on their porch. That's how families and trick-or-treaters will know the home is a safe zone for food allergies. Those homes have a separate bucket with non-food items like stickers, pencils, or small toys.
Victoria Vasquez, the committee chairperson for FARE Walk Sacramento, has two daughters that have food allergies. They've gone into anaphylactic shock seven times in the past decades.
"The first time was hives, welts, coughing, sneezing that wouldn't stop, so I got her into the emergency room," Vasquez said.
She also says three years ago, her daughter was not allowed to attend school during Halloween celebrations to avoid an allergic reaction. Sadly, halloween is also her daughter's birthday.
"So not only did she not get to celebrate her birthday with her classmates, but they had a parade where every single classroom handed out candy to each child," Vasquez said.
"I feel a little jealous," her daughter Farrah Avender says. "I don't get to have the foods they have because they're not safe."
Dr. Inmandar, an allergist with Mercy Medical Group, explained that there isn't just a physical reaction when allergies flare up, but also an emotional reaction.
"They'll develop phobias and fears, anxiety, stress about being around other people," Inmandar said. "It's pretty spooky what happens to some of these kids.
If you would like more information about food allergies and the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can visit foodallergy.org. There is also a regional map of listed homes who are participating this year.
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