Alameda libraries discount fines for food donations

December 5, 2011 8:26:18 PM PST
Doing good could soon get you a good deal. Alameda County libraries are giving people a break on past-due fines if they give a little something in exchange.

You could say they are trying to feed both the mind and the body. We all know people get busy during the holidays and many times they forget about the food bank. So beginning Dec. 17, fines at Alameda County libraries will be forgiven depending on how much food you bring in.

Those overdue library fines often creep up on some people.

"I think this summer about 50 dollars actually," Pleasanton resident Sue Donnelly said.

The Alameda County Library can help get that balance down to zero thanks to the new Food 4 Fines program. For every food item you put in the collection barrel, you get $1 off your bill, up to a maximum of $10.

"If you wanted to bring five non-perishable items you would do that; you'd bring them into the library and you would have the items checked in and then the 45 would be taken off your account," Alameda County Library spokesperson Marion Oldenhage said.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors approved the two-week program.

"I think that's a good idea because you feel like you are helping someone while at the same time repaying your obligation," Donnelly said.

The Alameda County Community Food Bank says the timing couldn't be better. They referred 8,500 people to emergency food sites in November alone, 15 percent more than last year.

"That was a record number for us and again part of it was the holidays, people wanting a holiday bag during that time or needing one, but again, it's another indicator that people are needing assistance this holiday season," Alameda County Community Food Bank spokesperson Suzan Bateson said.

At the same time, libraries in Alameda County are seeing more people come in to use the Internet and rent movies because they can no longer pay for them.

There is also the virtual food drive which is on the Alameda County Library website. There you can make donations to the food bank.

San Mateo County libraries are participating in a similar program.

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