Last year on Halloween, we learned that many years ago our Rabbi’s father gave out toothbrushes for treats on Halloween. While we have given out candy in the past, we were at a point where steering away from candy felt like the right thing to do. We also heard about the Teal Pumpkin Project where something other than food is given to trick-or-treaters. It was too late for us to take part in the Teal Pumpkin Project last year, but this year we are going to have our teal pumpkin and let Olivia hand out some of the goodies.
Rabbi Shpeen gave us a great idea for goodies this year and all three kids are excited!
Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca have never been trick-or-treating. Never. The potential for a life threatening event over candy is the highest one on our list. I remember very well the nights of sitting around trading candy without a second thought of one of my brothers or sister having an anaphylactic reaction. For some kids it is all about the candy. Our family does not have that ‘luxury’ of candy free-for-alls.
Before Olivia was two years old we knew she was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. We had Epipens (epinephrine injectors) stashed all over the place. We never left home without one. We had a plan if we needed to use the Epipen. We inspected everything she ate. Rebecca and Benjamin also stopped eating nuts because of the very real chance that she could have a reaction to something they ate if it were on their clothes or skin, or if she stole it from their plates. While as many as 9 percent of children may outgrow tree nut allergies and 20 percent may outgrow peanut allergies , according to Food Allergy Research and Education, Olivia is probably not one of them because she still reacts severely to tree nuts and peanuts, even though her numbers have improved over the last five years.
There are so many children with food allergies these days! There always seems to be something to avoid or be careful of when friends get together for play dates or birthday parties. According to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., one in 13 children has some type of food allergy. Consumer Alerts states that between 150 and 200 people die annually from food related allergies.
I realized this summer that while we were all very aware of Olivia’s allergy there were more things that we could do to help keep her as safe as possible. I taught Olivia how to use her Epipen. A trainer injector comes in the box with the two Epipens and I really thought it was time to teach Olivia what to do…just in case. I also taught Benjamin and Rebecca how to call 911, how to use the epipen on Olivia (this brought on some of the silliest moments in our home!) and how to help keep other friends and family safe.
Who would have thought the connection on what to give out on Halloween would have been inspired by a night at synagogue? Then we learned that there is an entire movement about giving out non-food items! The Teal Pumpkin Project was launched last year by Food Allergy and Research Education. I am so excited for our family to be a part of such a wonderful program that acknowledges that there are children out there who very much want to take part in the same activities as their friends, but are not able to because of something so simple as a piece of candy creating a life threatening reaction. For more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project ,foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project.