Find forgiveness of fines with food at library

Dave Mathieson
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These two cans of non-perishable food items paid for two overdue fines at the Four Fathers Memorial Library in Amherst. Denise Corey, chief librarian at the Amherst library, says their Food for Fines county-wide program is getting more popular every year.

AMHERST – The Food for Fines program in Cumberland County is catching on.

“We started in 2003, and people are used to it now,” said Denise Corey, chief librarian at the Four Fathers Memorial Library in Amherst. “People know that, come December, they can pay a fine off with non-perishable food items, so its good for them, it’s good for the community, it’s good for the food bank, and it’s good for people who have to use the food bank.”

Cumberland library’s started keeping records of the program in 2006.

The dollar amount for fines forgiven throughout Cumberland County added up to $933.80 in 2006, and last year the amount forgiven came to $1,825.44.

The way the program works is fines can be paid with non-perishable food items such as canned food or dry food like spaghetti.

“It’s the DVD’s that get people because those one’s are a dollar a day, but if you have a 10 dollar fine one food item will take care of it,” said Corey

People with one, two or three fines are welcome to drop off more than one, two or three food items.

“For some people it’s a good way to get past their fines and be able to borrow again, and for other people it’s a nice way to contribute to the food bank through the library,” said Corey. “Either way, most people don’t give just one can of food to pay their fines off.”

Here is the breakdown of donations from 2012:

Advocate – 80 food items forgave 29 fines worth $68

Amherst – 477 food items forgave 356 fines worth $477

Oxford – 31 food items forgave 17 fines worth $43.75

Parrsboro – 63 food items forgave 41 fines worth $105.75

Pugwash – 38 food items forgave 19 fines worth $40.75

River Hebert – 22 food items forgave 22 fines worth $88.25

Springhill – 200 food items forgave 165 fines worth $458.00

Donated food items are given back to the community where they are donated.

“Here in Amherst they go to the Amherst Food Bank, but in the different communities most of them go to church’s because church’s tend to do the food banks in the smaller communities.”

People without fines are also welcome to drop food off to libraries throughout the county.

“The food bank is only open three days a week, so people who are coming to the library anyway, can drop off food,” said Corey. “We’re basically another drop-off spot for the month of December.”

Food will be accepted at libraries up to Dec. 31.

“Some of the other branches aren’t open that day but we’re open Dec. 31, until 1 p.m., so people can bring food items in until then,” said Corey.


Organizations: Food for Fines, Amherst Food Bank

Geographic location: AMHERST, Cumberland County, Oxford River Hebert

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