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Cabarrus Magazine

Cabarrus County Libraries Offer "Food for Fines" Program, Benefits Local Organizations

Dec 05, 2018 12:30PM ● By Melanie Heisinger

Veterans Services officials hope to fill the shelves of the department’s food pantry following the Cabarrus County Public Library’s Food For Fines program. Courtesy of a Cabarrus County Government press release.

Cabarrus County Public Library is offering their "Food for Fines" program where overdue library fees can be waived for visitors donating canned foods. This program runs November 26th through December 8th, so be sure to take advantage of it while it lasts! 

Each canned food item donated earns a $2 credit toward overdue fines. Last year’s program eliminated about $3,700 in fines.

"There is no financial limit to how much can be waived, but it does only apply to overdue fines," Emery Ortiz, Library Director, told us. "Depending on the situation, it may not alleviate the entire balance from someone’s account, but there is still the opportunity to make major decreases in balances and potentially restore library privileges (accounts freeze in the event that there is a $5 or higher balance)."

All of the items collected during this event are donated to local food banks. The “Food for Fines” initiative was approved by the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners in November of 2005 in an effort to both promote community giving as well as allow a method of fine-forgiveness for library fines. 

Tony R. Miller, director of Cabarrus County Veterans Services.

One of these programs is the Veterans Food Pantry, which was “designed to ensure that no veteran is left without some means of food for nourishment,” said Veterans Services Director Tony R. Miller in a Cabarrus County Government press release. Throughout the year, the pantry collects canned goods, non-perishable items and local grocery store gift cards for Cabarrus County veterans in need.

Every year, hundreds of items get placed into local food pantries from the "Food for Fines" program. "Our community has such a giving spirit, as we often have people with no fines donate items as well!" Ortiz said. 

These programs are used by the community, and Ortiz wanted us to know that even library staff use these programs.

Along with “Food for Fines,” the library now offers other programs that provide some fine forgiveness. "Participants in our mock awards program, which invites readers to read and vote on titles up for national awards, can write a review and receive a $2 fine waiver, which runs through the end of January," Ortiz continued. "We also offer fine waivers as a Summer Reading prize incentive for all ages, which runs through most of June through early August."

This has all been put into place because the library staff understand that library fines can accumulate quickly and cause frustration, despite being necessary to ensure all library users maintain fair access to materials. To avoid library fines, local libraries offer account management through their online catalog, which allows visitors to renew material (along with placing holds and other services), and are also able to renew over the phone or via email with the applicable library card barcode number.  

Donations for the "Food for Fines" program must be non-alcoholic, non-perishable and non-expired canned or packaged food items.

To participate, visit one of these library locations:

For more information, follow the Cabarrus County Public Library System on Facebook (@cabarruscountylibrary) or call 704-920-2050.

Cabarrus County Veteran Services and its food pantry are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 363 Church Street N, Suite 180, Concord. 

For more information about Cabarrus County Veterans Services Office, visit https://www.cabarruscounty.us/departments/veterans-services. To schedule an appointment, call 704-920-2869.

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