Preparing For Halloween — 2 Ways For Food Allergy Families To Lead By Example

It’s almost that time of year again, Costco is putting out Christmas decorations which means Halloween is almost here and food allergy parents everywhere are rolling up their sleeves…

If your neighbors are anything like mine, they would likely be thrilled to know what kinds of treats would be safe to hand out to the food allergy and food sensitive kids on Halloween night. But if they don’t know, they can’t help; and if they are not familiar enough with food allergies, they also don’t know to ask. As food allergy parents it’s our job to lead the way, whether we like it or not.

Here are two simple things we can do to help our neighbors, help us this year:

  1. Let them know in advance: The change in season is a perfect excuse to wish your neighbors a “Happy Fall” with a homemade card or note (bonus points for enlisting your kiddos to help write, decorate, and deliver). It also just so happens to be around this time that many pick up a bag of candy the next time they’re at the store for trick-or-treaters. Inside the card, write a note to politely let your neighbors know which edible treats (be brand-specific if necessary) would be safe for your trick-or-treater this year, in case they are planning to hand out candy. You could even add that if possible, non-edible items (pencils, stickers, bouncy balls) would be just as welcome.
  2. Help prompt the question: We will be hanging a spooky-looking sign right by our doorbell that says “BEWARE: Allergy-friendly treats here only!” Sure, this will give any food allergy families that trick-or-treat at our house some assurance but perhaps more importantly, it will bring the topic to the forefront and beg the question in turn to your neighbors if their treats are also allergy-friendly.

It Takes A Village

If you are not impacted by food allergies I’d say you could completely ignore this post except you already know that’s not what I’m going to recommend. We can all play a role to help spread awareness and lighten the load for food allergy parents.

Job #1: If you know of any families in your neighborhood who are impacted by food allergies or sensitivities, reach out to them first and ask what kinds of treats would be safe. I promise you, this tiny act would mean SO much to a food allergy parent!

Job #2 if you can’t do Job #1: Ask anyways! 1 in 13 children in the U.S. have food allergies today. Chances are at least one of them lives in your neighborhood. If anything, it’s a great conversation starter to get to know your neighbors better!

For the newly diagnosed food allergy parents out there — my number one tip, is familiarize yourself with the most popular candies before the big day. Make a “Safe” and an “Off Limits” list of the most popular items (3 Musketeers, Snickers, etc.) that you can expect to receive. You will be thankful that you did the upfront work so that in the heat of the moment, you’re not trying to read tiny labels or look allergens up on your phone when all you really want is to finish sorting out the dang treats and let your overtired children pick their one treat to enjoy before bed.

Katie was born and raised in Milton, Wis. She attended UW-Eau Claire before studying abroad in Normandy, France, and later teaching English as a foreign language in Mexico City. Katie and her husband Alex currently live in Middleton with their two boys Felix (2013) and Gabe (2015). Parenting threw Katie its first curveball when her son Felix was diagnosed with food allergies at 11-months-old. She advocates for inclusivity within the restaurant industry on behalf of individuals impacted by food allergies, among other dietary restrictions. Katie and her family have spent a lot more time outdoors camping since the pandemic started, and they are looking forward to their new adventure this winter as members of Blackhawk Ski Club.

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