HOUGHTON - For the rest of December and throughout January, the Portage Lake District Library is offering its Food for Fines program, which allows patrons to donate food in exchange for having fines removed from their account.
"We've been doing this for a number of years," said PLDL Community Programs Director Chris Alquist. "The food that's given will be donated to local food pantries."
Among the pantries to receive the goods are Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, The Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul.
According to Alquist, the amount of food donated to local pantries is down this year.
"The food pantries really appreciate it," Alquist said. "They are especially in need. We're just relying on the generosity of others."
However, Alquist asks not to bring in food that is either expired or close to the expiration date.
The maximum amount of fines that can be erased through food donations is $10.
"If someone has lost or damaged materials, it won't go towards that," Alquist said.
People are also encouraged to donate even if they do not have fines.
"People who don't have fines often bring food in," Alquist said. "I think people are very generous in this area."
The Food for Fines program has been going on for more than six years. Alquist said it usually takes her a full day to pack up all the food that is given.
"I come in early and I sort it into three equal piles of fruits, vegetables and pastas," Alquist said. "It takes all day to divide it equally. It's then several trips to the places the food is donated."
Those who are interested in donating can take the food to the library and place it in a large box decorated with Christmas paper.
Patrons can then have the fine removed by telling the employee that food was brought in. There is no set amount of what each food item is worth and what it correlates to in removal of the fine. The program ends Jan. 31.