Food for Fines is back for 2022

Food for Fines is always a popular event at CALS. It’s a perfect end of year program that helps you start the new year with a clean (library fine) slate and also helps provide food for our neighbors in need. The annual Food For Fines program will take place December 11-17. During that time, patrons are invited to bring non-perishable food items to any CALS library to offset overdue fines on their accounts. This year, the food items will be kept at CALS to stock our Little Free Pantries.

For each non-perishable item brought, fines will be reduced by one dollar; patrons may bring up to twenty-five non-perishable items to offset up to $25 worth of fines. CALS encourages patrons to donate to the food drive even if they don’t have any fines and will apply additional “funds” to randomly selected accounts. Fines accrued for billed items or replacement fees are not eligible under the program.

The Little Free Pantries are open to anyone to take what they need. We have found that it is used by a few different audiences, including families who need a little extra to get by before the next paycheck, so boxed food items that are part of a complete meal work for this group. We also find that many unsheltered individuals will use the pantries for meals, so complete meals that are ready to eat like tuna and crackers or pop-top soups are great. Additionally, we have kids who will use the pantries for snacks after school, making items like granola bars and individual packaged cookies great for them. As the weather is cooler now, pantries are able to stock root vegetables. Most of the pantries turn over stock within one or two days, so the items are always fresh. Recommended items for the holiday season include canned meats, fruits, and vegetables; boxes meals and pastas; canned gravies; mashed potato mix; and boxed stuffing. Other items that are popular in the pantries include sanitary products, soaps, deodorants, and even diapers. While all non-perishable items are welcome, we do stipulate no glass or homemade items, please.

One in every five people in Arkansas do not know where their next meal is coming from.  Food for Fines is a unique way to help give back to the community while also chipping away at any fines that may have accumulated throughout the year. To make a donation directly to the Free Little Pantries, items can be purchased from their wishlist and shipped directly to them.