Teal Pumpkin project raises awareness for food allergies

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Halloween time can always be tough on kids suffering severe food allergies.

According to Food Allergy Research and Education, on average two kids in every classroom suffer from a life threatening food allergy. The CDC says the prevalence of food allergies in children has increased by more than 50 percent since 1997.

With such a drastic increase in food allergies, many schools have changed their policy on in school parties, treats and candies. But now, some kids are being targeted for it.

“We need to just get people to understand that child food allergies are real, they are nothing to joke about,” said CEO and President of Allergy Asthma Network Tonya Winders. “Bullying children with food allergies does exist and we need to prevent it at all costs.

The No Appetite for Bullying Campaign is aimed at bringing awareness to this ongoing issue. It encourages parents and children to share their own experiences with food allergy bullying.

Acting CEO of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America said the bullying can come in many forms, and her child has been a victim.

“She's been subjected to having to having to be forced to sit alone in the lunch room, to not being invited to birthday parties or sleepovers solely because of her peanut allergy,” explained Lynda Mitchell.

“It can also take more serious forms, where children are forced to eat the food that they are actually allergic to or tricked to eat that food,” said Winders. “And that can be very dangerous, even life-threatening or fatal.”

Experts say the best thing you can do if your child does not suffer from an allergy is inform them. Make sure they understand how food allergies work and know it is not the fault of the person with allergies.

If you’re a parent of a child with food allergies, you can take comfort in one thing this Halloween: Just search your neighbors' porches for teal pumpkins. If they have one sitting out, they are part of the “Teal Pumpkin Project.” That means your child can go there and get a non-food treat. To see a map of all of the households around our area currently marked as participants, just click here.

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