Texas Agricultural Commissioner and self-described “Food Czarina” Susan Combs — famous for using state-level fiats to tell local school boards which foods they can allow and even banning children from sharing their gummy bears — is robbing Peter and pummeling Paul. The Dallas Morning News reports that Combs has taken the unbelievable step of fining already cash-strapped public schools more than $8,000 for failing, even in small ways, to follow her dictatorial dietary decrees.
For years, Texas has attempted to remedy a systemic funding problem that has plagued its schools. The issue is so severe that legislators have suggested everything from soda and snack taxes to legalized gambling to bridge the budgetary gap. According to the Morning News, Combs’ Draconian regulations — one of which, a ban on cupcakes, was overturned by the state’s legislature — have only added to the monetary misery:
Wylie, like districts throughout the state, revamped its snack, or “a la carte,” offerings this year to follow the complicated new rules. Snack portions are smaller. The beloved curly fires are gone. Consequently, it’s been a tough year financially, said Theresa Johnson, the district’s director of student nutrition.
As if that weren’t enough, Combs is now exceeding normal bureaucratic slaps on the wrist to actually financially punish schools. Among the absurd fines:
The Carlisle School was fined more than $1,000 for selling Crystal Lite (which has only 5 calories per 8 oz. serving).
The Calallen Middle School received a devilish fine of $666 because the bags of Chili Cheese Fritos were too big.
The Bartlett Elementary school was fined more than $2,400 for, among other things, selling fried potato products twice in a week.