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Food For Fines Week Helps Patrons and Hungry Families

It’s fine amnesty week at the Library; do you have an overdue book fine you’d like to clear?

As part of Food For Fines week Sunday, Jan. 27, through Saturday, Feb. 2, at all 10 branches and the Mobile Library, we’ll deduct 50 cents from your overdue fine balance for every item of non-perishable food you donate at the checkout counter. (The offer doesn’t apply to fees and fines for lost or damaged materials.) You can participate even if you don’t owe fines; just deliver your donation to any branch.

All the food you exchange for fine amnesty will go to Ozarks Food Harvest, which serves about 20,000 people weekly in 28 Missouri counties. Many of those are children. According to Ozarks Food Harvest, one in four children does not know where his next meal is coming from. And while the economy is improving, families on the low end of the economic scale are always the last to benefit from recovery.

The food bank needs canned meats, canned and boxed meals, peanut butter, canned fruit or vegetables, cereal and hygiene items and paper products. We cannot accept liquids in plastic or glass containers.

We like to think this helps patrons as much as the food bank. The average fine balance is $10, which is also the point at which a person loses checkout privileges and use of the public computers. Donate a little or a lot of food, whittle down the fine and you can get back to checking out or downloading books and other materials. And if you’re sitting on a book that’s long overdue because you owe a fine, this is your chance to return the book so others can read it, while helping out the hungry in the Ozarks.

As a thank you with each donation, the Library will give patrons a coupon for 20 percent off your order from Big Momma’s Café and Espresso Bar at the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library.

This is the Library’s fourth year partnering with Ozarks Food Harvest in Food For Fines, a program that has grown each year. In 2012, patrons donated 9,901 pounds of food and the Library waived $5,141.69 in fines.

Ozarks Food Harvest says 10,000 pounds of food translates into more than 8,000 meals. Can we beat that in 2013?
 

Kathleen O’Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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