October 16. 2013 10:58PM

Epping preschool rejects candy corn mom packed into daughter's lunch

Union Leader Correspondent

Sarah Kelly, 4, holds a handful of candy corn similar to the amount she recently brought in for a treat with her lunch at Epping's public preschool program. She had to bring the candy corn home because she was told candy isn't allowed at school. (JASON SCHREIBER/Union Leader Correspondent)

EPPING -- Michelle Kelly recently decided to reward her 4-year-old daughter, Sarah, with a little bag of candy corn for getting ready for school on time.

Kelly packed the bag with Sarah's otherwise healthy snack and lunch and sent her off to Epping's public preschool.

Kelly didn't think too much of it when Sarah came home from school with the bag of candy uneaten.

She packed it again as a treat the next day, but when Sarah returned home with the candy corn a second time, Kelly asked her why she didn't eat it.

"She said, 'My teacher told me I couldn't have any candy,'" Kelly said.

When she asked about the candy issue while dropping Sarah off at school the next day, Kelly said another teacher told her that the school's policy is no candy at school.

Kelly said she never saw such a policy when the school year started, and neither did her fiancé, Epping School Board Chairman David Mylott.

"If I put food in her lunch, she should be able to eat it. If I want to give my daughter a treat because she did a good job, she should be allowed to have it," Kelly said.

Mylott raised the issue at a school board meeting on Oct. 3; it is expected to come up again at tonight's school board meeting, he said.

While the Epping School District adopted a wellness policy, Mylott said he doesn't believe the policy was intended to prohibit parents from sending candy for their own child's snack.

"I was surprised. I knew when we discussed it in the past we specifically said you can't tell people what they can bring in their lunch," Mylott said Wednesday.

Mylott said he feels some people are simply overreacting to government efforts aimed at getting kids to eat better."They misinterpret what it says and try to make things a blanket rule. Instead of using logic and saying, 'Here's what we're required to do,' I think people just say they can only bring in healthy food," Mylott said.

School board member Shannon Boelter has said he's aware of similar incidents where candy wasn't allowed at the elementary school.

On Wednesday, Superintendent Barbara Munsey said an investigation into the preschool candy incident was conducted and that the district's policy does not specifically address what parents provide.

"The policy does say that the school will provide a list of healthy snacks. Some preschool parents do send in more than one snack. In these instances, the staff will select a healthy snack," she said.

In the case of Kelly's daughter, Munsey said: "The student was sent to school with candy and a healthy snack. The student was provided with the healthy snack."

She said the preschool has a practice of encouraging healthy snacks and the practice was reviewed with parents.