“Hey, why is the pumpkin in front of that house…blue?”

The Teal Pumpkin Project was launched nationally by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) in 2004. The goal? To make sure that kids with food allergies have just as much fun as everyone else going door to door in their costumes.

By putting a teal pumpkin on your porch, you’re making Halloween a little less scary for kids with food allergies (not to mention their parents) by providing allergen-free treats.

1. Food allergies affect 1 in 13 kids in the United States.

That number is rising, costing the country $25 billion each year and putting these children at risk of serious health problems, anaphylaxis, and even death.

2. There are eight main allergens.

What are kids allergic to? Just eight foods account for 90 percent of food allergies — and many of them are common in candy production. They include: milk, peanuts, eggs, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish, and shellfish. Even if a candy is allergen-free but was produced on a machine that allergens touched, it could cause a reaction.

3. The Teal Pumpkin Project isn’t only good for kids with allergies.

It’s also good for kids with other conditions and dietary restrictions. By offering noncandy “treats,” you’re also giving more options for children who have conditions like type 1 diabetes or celiac disease.

4. It’s a local initiative gone national.

While it’s now part of the Food Allergy Research & Education organization, it was started locally by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee as a “local awareness activity.”

5. It’s a chance to be different.

Nine out of every 10 Halloween shoppers will buy candy this year, according to the National Retail Federation. The Teal Pumpkin Project is your chance to be unique and offer kids something different — even for those who don’t suffer from allergies.

6. Painting a pumpkin teal is quite easy.

You can find a small bottle of acrylic paint at any craft or big box store, often for well under $5. A single bottle can be used to paint several pumpkins, so you can share with your neighbors. Make allergy-friendly Halloween a community event!

7. You can be teal-friendly without a pumpkin.

If you don’t have time to paint a pumpkin, don’t worry! FARE has a printable sign that you can use instead to tell your community that your house is going allergen-free for Halloween.

8. Pledge!

Along with painting your pumpkin teal to signal that you’re allergy-friendly, the program asks participants to sign a pledge, print a sign for their yard, and circulate promotional materials within their community. You can even order an official goodie bag from the FARE website, make a donation, and download other free materials.

9. Need ideas for non-candy treats?

Try erasers, pencils, crayons, or stickers. You can also hand out fresh fruit, notepads, small games, or glow sticks. Want to do something really different? Organize a Halloween scavenger hunt or cookout in your neighborhood. You could start a lasting new tradition that everyone can participate in.