FAIRBANKS, Alaska Some members of the community will be putting out teal pumpkins this Halloween. It isn't just for decoration, but it is for food allergy awareness.
According to Foodallergy.org, researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18, which is approximately 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom.
Additionally, the Center for Disease Control & Prevention reports that the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
Some of the allergies may be so severe that they could be caused by inhalation or cross contamination.
So how would a teal pumpkin help?
"Teal pumpkin is a project from the food allergy research and education group. That promotes safe Halloweens for Children with food allergies," explains Doctor Tim Foote.
Foote says that the Tanana Valley Clinic has been participating for 3 years in the Teal Pumpkin Project and the participation is growing throughout the community.
The idea is that members of the community would put a teal colored pumpkin out and fill it with items without the food allergens. Some items to fill the teal pumpkins can include, stickers, spider rings, playing cards, coins, or anything that a child could enjoy without having to eat it.
Registered Nurse at TVC, Nicki Benedict, says teal pumpkins are available in town or online. She also says that Foodallergy.org can provide teal pumpkin posters for those who do not have the pumpkins. Foodallergy.org also has a map of where people have checked in who will be participating.
"With the map you can actually input your home address, and it will put your house on the map as a safe place to go, so a parent can look at that map that has kiddos with food allergies," said Benedict.
Dr. Foote says the teal pumpkin project can help prevent dangerous allergy events.
"It's important because Halloween impacts on children with food allergies and their families. They're marginalized. It creates excessive fear and sometimes it presents dangerous situations for children with food allergies."
Teal Pumpkins can scare away real fears about food allergies on Halloween.