ESCANABA, Mich. (WJMN) – “There were a dozen or so homes in Delta County that participated and made my son feel included for once. For the Halloween season, he was able to go up, grab the treat and actually enjoy it and not have to worry.”

That is Samantha Gaudino, her son, like many children, loves Halloween. Every year, October 31 is longingly looked forward to since…well…November 1. Except, for her son, Halloween can be even scarier than most expect.

“My son actually has a severe peanut allergy,” Gaudino explains. “And every year for Halloween, we usually do a swap with buckets so he can go trick-or-treating…but we’ll swap the candy around with our own safe candies.”

This was Halloween for the Gaudino family until Samantha learned about the Teal Pumpkin Project, a nationwide effort to encourage businesses, homeowners, and anyone handing out treats to offer a non-food option, so that children with food allergies, diabetes, feeding tubes, and other conditions can enjoy the holiday fun like every other kid.

“Everybody benefits. You don’t have to have a food allergy or medical condition that prevents you from eating candy. Kids love toys and trinkets, they love it…it makes them happy,” said Gaudino. “I’ve heard previous participants say they’ve offered the candy in a separate bowl and the non-food items in the separate bowl and every trick-or-treater went for the non-food items and so they decided they’re not going to do the candy anymore.”

Last Halloween season, Gaudino joined the cause of the Teal Pumpkin Project, handing out flyers to the Delta County community, to spread awareness and the effort to make Halloween safe and fun for all.

“Organizations and businesses can still handout candy, we just ask that they also, in addition, have the non-food items in a separate bowl, or preferably teal pumpkin, so that kids can identify that,” said Gaudino.

The teal pumpkin symbol has even been licensed by Food Allergy Research and Education, or FARE, as a safety symbol for food allergies.

“If you see a child with a teal pumpkin, chances are they have a food allergy,” said Gaudino.

And likewise, the teal pumpkin can be a symbol to kids that the contents inside are safe.

Gaudino also said that this is just the beginning for her. She’s working with the community to plan an all-teal-pumpkin-friendly event in the future.

If you’d like more information on the Teal Pumpkin Project, you can visit