You are here

Katy Kelly's Profile Image

Giving Food for Fines

April 18, 2016
Program Type
Display / Passive Program
Program Topic
History / Politics / Civics
Special Needs & Underserved Populations
Target Audience
Adult
College Students
Older Adults / Seniors
Young Adult
Budget
Free
kkelly's picture
Short Title
Giving Food for Fines

Blogger Katy Kelly shares tips and tricks for conducting a successful Food for Fines program.

Food for Fines is a popular program for many libraries to offer fine amnesty and good will toward those in need. Typically, the program offers fine forgiveness in return for shelf-stable food items that are then donated to a local food pantry. Consider the points below for planning a Food for Fines and to freshen up an already existing program.

Food for Fines display

Timing is Key

On a university or college campus, the end of spring semester can be a boon for food drives involving nonperishable items. Students are getting ready to move and are cleaning out their pantries. In 2015, we received a 24-pack of macaroni and cheese. Another time to consider is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Many public library members on the Programming Librarian Interest Group (PLIG) Facebook page noted that they do their Food for Fines drive around the holiday season, a high-need time at food banks.

Follow Your Unique Recipe

Guidelines or rules for the program will vary library to library. Some restrictions offered by PLIG members included food item size requirements, exclusions for glass containers and prohibition on expired “use-by” dates. At the University of Dayton, our only restrictions are that the food be labeled and nonperishable. 

Canned Reminders

Promote your Food for Fines program in reminder emails about due dates, fines or holds. At University of Dayton, we edit the messages sent automatically by our integrated library system (ILS) during the week we run Food for Fines. Patrons who receive email notifications about a book that is due soon or ready to be picked up also learn about the program.

Avoiding the Can of Worms

Some libraries have restrictions on accepting donations in lieu of money to benefit another nonprofit. If that’s the case, you could just run a set period of time for fine amnesty and simply waive fines. You can still partner with food banks and other agencies for different initiatives. Also, consider becoming a permanent drop-off location for your local food bank.

Food for Fines helps show your library’s good will toward the community and your patrons. See if you can try it out; or, if this is a longstanding program for you library, comment below to tell us what works well. 

Food for Fines display
Library Type
Academic / College
Public
School (K-12)
Special
Program Type
Display / Passive Program
Program Topic
History / Politics / Civics
Special Needs & Underserved Populations
Job Functions
Budgeting
Resources and Program Starters
Target Audience
Adult
College Students
Older Adults / Seniors
Young Adult
Budget
Free
Comments:
Programming Librarian Forum