Teal pumpkins signal safety

By David Talley | Published Saturday, October 14, 2017

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Halloweens Coming

HALLOWEEN’S COMING – Hudson Hughes shows off his teal pumpkins for collecting prizes and other goodies on Halloween. Register to set out special toys or prizes for Hudson and other local kids with food allergies or dietary restrictions by visiting Messenger photo by Joe Duty

While children flood their neighborhood streets in search of candy on Halloween, some don’t get to chase the same sugar rush.

For kids with food allergies or esophageal conditions, Halloween candy can turn the holiday into a nightmare.

Megan Hughes’ 3-year-old son, Hudson, has two conditions that make Halloween candy a no-go. Eosinophilic esophagitis is a chronic allergic/immune condition that causes tightening of the esophagus or vomiting when Hudson eats certain foods. Many children with the condition rely on the use of a feeding tube full-time.

He’ll also enter anaphylactic shock if he ingests tree nuts or dairy products.

“That’s basically every kind of candy,” Hughes said. “So we always do no food for him [on Halloween]. It’s a little bit more clear-cut if we do no food for him.”

At Hudson’s age, Halloween and the costumes are important. And it isn’t necessarily easy for Hughes to explain to her son that he can’t trick-or-treat like everyone else.

When the family discovered the Teal Pumpkin Project last year, it made a difference. The project promotes the inclusion of children with food allergies who wouldn’t otherwise get to participate in Halloween by giving those kids prizes or toys instead of candy. Hughes said the First United Methodist Church of Decatur took part last year.

“Our church is the only place we went trick-or-treating, because I didn’t want to tell him, ‘no, you can’t have that,’ because I already have to do that so many times a day.

He’s 3, so it’s kind of his world right now, trick-or-treating and costumes and all that stuff.”

The church was the only local entity to participate, she said, but she’s hoping to see more teal pumpkins this Halloween. Participants just have to set out one of the uniquely-colored pumpkins next to their regular display to show they’re taking part and have something other than food to give out to trick-or-treaters who need it.

Registering online at helps parents of kids with food allergies or conditions find safe houses to take their kids. Parents with kids with food allergies or conditions can search homes to visit.

“Basically it’s just you set out a teal pumpkin with non-food treats inside of it,” she said. “They can put things like stickers or bouncy balls or bubbles that’s non-food. No candy. No food.”

As of press time Friday, no Decatur addresses were shown to have registered, but Hughes said the church is planning to participate again.

“A lot of the bigger cities have more, but there’s not a lot in Decatur, so it’s important to just get it out there that that’s what you do,” she said.

“Teal isn’t just a pretty color. It matters to these kids. It’s a big deal.”

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