Trick-or-treating: Why it is so important in poverty

October 23, 2017 Published by

Dak Prescott, the quarterback for the Cowboys, got my attention when I found out that he kept candy in his locker. I saw it in a video showing Ezekiel Elliott trying to take and eat Dak’s candy.

And I thought, “That is something you do when you are an adult and you grew up in poverty—you buy and keep lots of candy.” I Googled Dak Prescott and found out that he had grown up with a single mother who had three boys and managed a truck stop.

Candy. What is it about candy that is so important in poverty? It’s simple: There isn’t any. When food is basic and not easy to have, candy is even rarer.

So Halloween is huge, particularly for children in poverty. It is free candy and lots of it! It only comes once a year, and even Christmas is not as good as Halloween for candy. Some of the “kids” who trick or treat are not kids anymore, right? Right! But this may be the only candy they get for a while.

And now we have teal pumpkins, a move toward providing non-food treats—for example,  stickers, pencils, and pens. For some children with food allergies, this will be lifesaving. But for most of the children in poverty, this will be sheer disappointment. For them, it is about candy—a rare treat.

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This post was written by Ruby Payne

  • Curious

    From my experience kids from all socio-economic levels appreciate trick-or-treating. During my 25+ years working with people living in poverty I have never seen a low-income family place a stronger emphasis on the event than those with money.