The Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness of food allergies and promotes inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Teal Pumpkins pop up in Greater Victoria

Oak Bay mom leads charge in offering non-food treats this Halloween

At six-and-a-half months old, Sullivan Johnston isn’t quite ready to trick-or-treat. But by the time the Oak Bay boy heads out next year, mom Sarah Johnston hopes they can plan a route, safe for him to gather treats.

She and dad Tim Johnston are big fans of Halloween, so it was an early consideration when their baby boy was diagnosed with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) at just over four months old. FPIES is a food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal tract with symptoms such as profound vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.

“I went into research mode because I’m a nurse,” Sarah said. She quickly found the Teal Pumpkin Project, which started in the U.S. three years ago and has grown globally since. “It truly resonated with me. It was really easy to get behind.”

A teal pumpkin on the porch indicates a household offering alternatives for kids with food allergies – non-food treats such as glow sticks or small toys.

“It’s also for other children where candy’s not an option,” she said.

With a pair of partnerships with Galey Farms and Save on Foods, she hopes to spread that awareness.

She promotes the project at Galey Farms Oct. 14 and 15, and Oct. 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

She’ll be at the Fort and Foul Bay Save on Foods on Oct. 28 and 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. And as long as supplies last, she can get those interested, into the project. Available by-donation, Sarah crafted ready-made bags with glow sticks, tattoos, toys and other non-food items.

“You can walk away with a starter kit,” she said. “All you have to do is go home and print out a sign and you’re participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.”

Online resources are also key, Sarah says. Learn more at the Facebook page (facebook.com/tealpumkinprojectvictoriabc/) or visit the Food Allergy Research & Education site at foodallergy.org where she found a litany of free resources.

Funds raised during the promotion events will go to FARE.