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The program is called Food for Fines, and this is its fifth year.
For each non-perishable food item donated to one of the library branches, 50 cents is deducted from the balance for overdue books. There is no limit on how much you can pay off.
Once a patron’s overdue fines reach $10, they are unable to borrow items from the library, use the public library computers or research online sites.
Kathleen O’Dell is the community relations director of the library district.
“People love the idea that they get a little break on their fines and they also know they can’t make a huge donation to Ozarks Food Harvest possibly, but their $1 or $5 of food they donate makes a huge difference when it’s all added together with everybody else who donates. People say they love the opportunity to give a little bit and make a big difference for people who are served by Ozarks Food Harvest,” O’Dell said.
Participants must drop off non-perishable food items at the check-out desk of the library or the Bookmobile.
Along with non-perishable food items, the libraries will take personal hygiene items like toothpaste, soap and shampoo.
Denise Gibson is development director of Ozarks Food Harvest.
“Any kind of a non-perishable food item, but we really like are things people can make meals out of. Canned meats like tuna fish are nice. Anything with protein like peanut butter so we can have for peanut butter sandwiches for the kids. This time of the year since it’s so cold outside soups and stews are. Anything folks can easily make that is healthy and can help them produce a nice meal,” Gibson said.
The total amount of fines waived in past years, O'Dell said, averages about $3,900.
For KSMU News, I’m Briana Simmons.