Sunday, February 17, 2013

Food for Fines-Tacoma Public Library

Tacoma Public Library

Restock local food banks. Reduce your library fines. All without raiding your wallet.

Food For Fines LogoThe availability of food items at local food banks are traditionally at an all-time low after the December holidays, but the Tacoma Public Library is hoping to change that through a new program where library patrons can help feed the hungry while eliminating overdue fines. Beginning on February 19 Tacoma's libraries will hold a community food drive at all 8 locations. It's a food drive with a twist, however: for every three non-perishables items a patron donates, the library will reduce their overdue fines by $10, without a limit to the total amount waived.  The 'Food For Fines' food drive continues through March 2. All food items donated will be delivered to a neighborhood food bank.  More information is available by telephoning the library at 253.292.2001.
"We hope that this program will encourage people to return overdue items and clear their library records, while having the opportunity to donate food to help people in their community rather than just pay fees." explained librarian Rhonda Kristoff, coordinator of the two-week program.
Each library branch is working with a nearby food bank to ensure donations stay in the neighborhood.  There is no limit to the number of food items the library will accept, nor to the size of the overdue fines the library will forgive. 
The library is unable to accept rusty or unlabeled cans, perishable items (fruits, vegetables and raw meat), alcoholic beverages or mixes, opened or used items, home-canned and home­made items, and items within 30 days of their expiration date. "Food for Fines" donations can only be applied to overdue fines. Donations cannot be used to pay for lost or damaged items. "There's no limit to how much food a patron can donate," says Kristoff, "and food donations are welcome even if a patron has no fines."
According to Helen McGovern, Executive Director of the Emergency Food Network, "the number 1 item area food banks are especially in need of is peanut butter, followed by canned protein items (such as tuna fish, chili, canned beef and chicken, and stew), canned fruits and vegetables, baby food, baby formula and diapers." A complete list is included below.
"Our libraries are the heart of the community," says Ms. McGovern, "a place where people come together.  Our neighbors are in need and this is a way to show the generosity of the residents in Tacoma.  This is a win-win-win.  The fine is paid, material can be checked out and families can have access to nutritious food at their local food bank!"
According to the Emergency Food Network, there were 6,313,944 pounds of food distributed through food banks in Tacoma in 2012.  There were 530,278 client visits (a client can represent themselves or a family of any size).
The Library's "Food For Fines" community food drive continues through Saturday, March 2.

National and local Hunger Facts
  • 19.5% of Americans live in hungry or food-insecure households.
  • 1 in 5 households across Washington state reported they didn't have enough money to buy the food they needed in 2009.
  • Households with children have almost double the rate of food insecurity compared to those without.
Each month in Pierce County more than 110,000 children, seniors and adults seek help finding food. Of these individuals:
  • 53% are children and seniors (39% children under 18, 14% individuals over 55)
  • 99% fall below the national poverty line
  • Almost half are families with at least one adult working

Food Drive "Most Wanted" List Canned GoodsPeanut Butter
Beef Stew
Canned Tuna
Canned Chicken
Canned Beef
Assorted Canned Fruits
Assorted Canned Vegetables
Packaged ItemsHot Cereal (Oatmeal, Malt-O-Meal, Cream of Wheat, Grits, etc.)
Powdered Eggs
Ensure (or other Supplemental drinks)
Infant ItemsInfant formula