A program called Food for Fines was successful in raising over 10,000 pounds of donated non-perishable food in exchange for clearing public library debt in Tucson, Arizona.
According to local news outlet KGUN, the fundraiser ran for two weeks from April 15 to April 30. The 10,000 pounds of food accumulated was able to assist in clearing $8,000 worth of fines at Pima County Libraries.
By clearing just shy of $10,000 worth of fines, the fundraiser also opened the door for nearly 4,000 individuals to reconnect with their local library now that they do not have to worry about looming debt on their accounts.
The food collected during the drive will be used by the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona to supply local food banks.
Arizona is not the only state to utilize the Food for Fines initiative to collect food for local food banks. Moreover, library debt also isn’t the only debt this type of drive has been able to clear up.
In several colleges across the country, the Food for Fines concept is being used to help students and college patrons clear unpaid parking citations.
Both the University of Georgia and the University of Colorado, Boulder are using this program to help give their students relief from their buildup of on-campus parking fees and citations, The Red & Black and CU Boulder Today confirm.
Some of these violations include things like expired meter fines, improper parking, and expired parking permits. These fees can quickly build up for on-campus students where finding a parking space in a packed parking lot or garage is already a challenge. Most college campuses prevent students from accessing their transcripts or filing for graduation until these debts are cleared.
— kisscasper (@kisscasper) May 14, 2019
The program allows the students to trade nonperishable goods in varying quantities to help clear one or multiple citations in dollar amounts under $50.
Programs like the above mentioned are becoming popular ways to help library patrons and students to manage their debts that they might have otherwise not been able to do. The proceeds go to local charities and food banks and are funneled back into the community where they are needed the most.
Food for Fines runs all month long! If you have late fees, grab a few extra non-perishable food items at the grocery store & bring them to the library. We'll deduct $1 from your late fees for each food item you donate. https://t.co/9uk2fcSVtg #FoodforFines #YorkCountyLibraries pic.twitter.com/OIhHEYZliv
— York Libraries (@YorkLibraries) May 18, 2019
According to a recent post on Mental Floss, many public libraries and similar local resources are doing away with fine systems in an attempt to make their services accessible to even those with low incomes. The site reports that in the Los Angeles County library allows all patrons under 21 to clear their library debts by simply reading more books and expanding their knowledge.