October 15, 2008 — Trick-or-treaters on the University of Virginia Lawn this year will get the usual candy corn, Sweet Tarts and M&Ms, but not-so-typical allergy-free candy and free-trade chocolate might also make it into their bags.
Halloween on the Lawn, a U.Va. tradition, will be held Oct. 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Academical Village. All the Lawn and Range rooms will be open to children from the community for trick-or-treat. There will be live performances, such as drumming, dance and a cappella singers. There will also be an allergy-free treats table, sponsored by the Charlottesville Food Allergy Support Group, set up on the Lawn.
"Many families with food allergies avoid events where food is the focus and where it's pretty likely that there won't be anything 'safe' for their children," said Mary E. Roberts, a member of the support group. "However, if they know we are there with special treats, perhaps they'll come to feel included, to have some fun, and to learn more about products and resources for those with food allergies."
Last year the group distributed hundreds of treats free of many common food allergens. Halloween on the Lawn, Roberts said, is a great way to raise public awareness about food allergies in general, and help children enjoy a holiday tradition.
Students Promoting Fair Trade will also be distributing "fair-trade" chocolate.
"Fair Trade is an initiative that empowers farmers and farm workers to invest in their communities, protect the environment and develop the business skills to compete in the global marketplace," said Lawn resident Christian West.
Each Lawn room is sponsored by a student organization, and members of the organization will help distribute candy. Organizers anticipate several hundred children on the Lawn this year, maybe more since the event is being held on the eve of Homecoming weekend.