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Food For Fines is a win-win for Greene Countians

Take a bow, library patrons. You donated more than 3 tons of non-perishable food during the Springfield-Greene County Library District’s first Food For Fines drive the last week of January.

It was 6,261 pounds, to be exact, and all of that food went to help restock the shelves at Ozarks Food Harvest — The Food Bank. Its member agencies across 29 counties reach more than 55,000 people.

Patrons got something back, too. Under Food For Fines, the library district offered to forgive 50 cents of patrons’ overdue fines for each item they donated at the checkout desk of any library.

When the week was over, the library district had waived $3,168 in fines. Nicer still, many people donated food for the cause even though they didn’t have fines.

“The program was more successful than we’d even imagined,” said Jim Schmidt, the Library District’s associate director of public services. “The generosity of the Library's customers, staff and volunteers made Food for Fines a wonderful experience.”

The biggest winners are the families in the Ozarks who will benefit from our patrons’ generosity. The food collected will provide 5,008 meals to those in need, said Lindsey Neddenriep, public relations coordinator at Ozarks Food Harvest.

“We at The Food Bank are completely amazed at the results of this initiative,” Neddenriep said after her agency collected and weighed the big haul.

“More than 3 tons of food will provide 5,000 meals to those we serve,” she said.

“The people of the Ozarks are so very generous. We thank everyone who took advantage of this unique opportunity, and are especially grateful to The Library for choosing to implement Food for Fines this year. We look forward to an ongoing partnership.”

The checkout desk staff and branch managers contributed greatly to the project’s success, alerting patrons in advance and welcoming each donation, no matter how small.

They enjoyed seeing both patrons and Ozarks Food Harvest benefit, as we all did.

“Some happy families with no remaining fines!” said Allison Eckhardt, branch manager of Strafford and Fair Grove libraries.

And this, from Melissa Davis, branch manager of the Library Station said it all: “We gathered 2,317 food items” by week’s end. “It looks like a grocery store on the dock! Happy, warm feelings for such a giving community.”

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

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