Disney Channel Star Teams Up with Food Allergy Research & Education on Outreaches Including Their Halloween Teal Pumpkin Project

by Meredith Cooper

McLEAN, Va and LOS ANGELES -- Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), the nation’s leading nonprofit organization serving 15 million Americans with food allergies, is proud to announce actor August Maturo will be working with FARE to bring attention to the severity of food allergy in support of the 1 in 13 children living with this potentially life-threatening disease.

Known as Auggie on the Disney Channel sitcom “Girl Meets World,” the 9-year-old actor will be teaming up with FARE on a number of awareness and education initiatives over the next year, including the Teal Pumpkin Project®, which helps create a happier, safer Halloween for kids with food allergies. Auggie is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and coconut.

Through his large following on social media and in other collaborations, Auggie will work with FARE on campaigns that educate hundreds of thousands of children and adults about food allergies. Auggie is the National Captain of Team Teal Pumpkin, in which he challenges kids to paint pumpkins teal and get their families involved in this nationwide movement that promotes inclusion and food allergy awareness during Halloween. A teal pumpkin on your doorstep indicates non-food treats are available for kids with food allergies or other dietary restrictions. Families will be encouraged to post photos of their teal pumpkins online for the Teal Pumpkin Project Challenge.

“We are delighted to have Auggie on board as an ambassador for this cause. With his strong fan base and tremendous social media following, he will undoubtedly raise the profile of food allergy and help educate so many about an often misunderstood condition,” said Lois A. Witkop, chief advancement officer of FARE. “He’s a terrific role model and we look forward to collaborating with Auggie on FARE’s high-impact awareness and education initiatives.”

“I am so excited to team up with FARE to raise awareness about food allergies and can’t wait to get started – I’m hoping to see a lot of teal pumpkins this year!” Auggie said. “Everyone needs to understand that food allergies are serious. By sharing my story and getting involved with FARE, I know I can help spread this message and make a difference for so many kids.”

Food allergies are a serious and growing public health issue. The CDC reports that the number of children with food allergy has increased by a staggering 50 percent since 1997, and every three minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.

Halloween can present a number of challenges for individuals and families managing food allergies because many popular candies include the most common allergens. In addition, different sizes of the same candy can use different ingredients, and smaller sizes of some candies that are popular during this time of year do not always have clear labels stating their ingredients.

FARE encourages people to show their support for kids with food allergies and other dietary restrictions to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project®, an awareness initiative that promotes safety and inclusion for all trick-or-treaters.

Being part of the Teal Pumpkin Project is simple. Supporters can:

•    Provide non-food treats for trick-or-treaters
•    Paint a pumpkin teal or buy a teal pumpkin at your local craft store or pharmacy, or print a free sign from FARE’s website
•    Place your teal pumpkin or sign in front of your home to indicate non-food treats are available.

“This year in particular, more people are becoming aware of how life-altering a food allergy diagnosis can be, and how difficult it can be to manage this potentially life-threatening medical condition,” Witkop. “We hope that everyone who participates in the fun tradition of Halloween will incorporate a teal pumpkin into their celebration, bringing smiles to the faces of kids with food allergies.”

Launched nationally in 2014, the Teal Pumpkin Project has attracted supporters from 50 states and more than a dozen countries. The campaign was inspired by a local awareness activity run by the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee. This year, a number of national retail partners are supporting this important initiative, making it easier than ever for people to participate.

FARE has a number of resources to help individuals and families get involved, including:

•    ideas for non-food treats,
•    free downloads such as official Teal Pumpkin Project signs, fliers, stencils and stickers,
•    Halloween Essentials Kit, posters and garden flag available for purchase from FARE’s e-store,
•    an online crowd-sourced map that shows households participating
•    ideas for Teal Pumpkin Project-themed fundraisers

For more information about the Teal Pumpkin Project, including a link of corporate supporters and nonprofit partners, visit http://www.tealpumpkinproject.org. For more information about food allergies, visit http://www.foodallergy.org.