UCSD Library Accepting Food Donations Instead of Payment for Outstanding Fines

The UC San Diego Library and Triton Food Pantry launched the first “Food for Fine$” initiative on Sunday, May 27. The program, which will continue through June 9, allows students to pay their overdue book fees with donations of non-perishable food items to the Triton Food Pantry.

In addition to overdue fees, the library will also waive billing and processing fees up to a maximum of $40. For each item brought in, the library will remove $2 from the donator’s outstanding fees. All fines must be from the current quarter, weeks 1 through 8. Some of the most-needed food items are: cereal, rice, pasta and pasta sauce, canned meats, soups, granola bars, oatmeal, and canned fruit.

Laura Weis, the library’s circulation operations supervisor, told the UCSD Guardian that the library staff was inspired by the countless other Food for Fines programs around the country.

“Libraries nationwide have a long history of working in cooperation with food pantries and we wanted to join in to provide help,” Weis said. “What a great way for students to clear their overdue fees for this quarter and at the same time help others.“

In 2016, a similar program in Sonoma County raised over 5,000 pounds of food and waived almost $7,000 in fines.

Students may submit their donations to either the Geisel Library or Biomedical Library front desks. Most non-perishable food items will be accepted, except items in glass containers, homemade items, ramen, gum, soda, and candy. In addition, the items must expire after June 1, 2018. Any large packages of small, individually wrapped items will be counted as one item.

Sherlock Li, a Revelle College sophomore who currently serves as the volunteer coordinator, and is an incoming lead manager of the Triton Food Pantry and would like to expand the program in the future to include themes.

“[The program] is very inspirational,” Li told the Guardian. “If it works out this time, we are looking forward to having this program again with a themed food donation. After working with the library, it inspired me to work with other departments to do something similar. I am currently reaching out to [the] transportation department to host something similar.”

Library staff and members of the food pantry encourage students to donate food even if they don’t have any outstanding fees. The library will accept donations from any students on behalf of the pantry. Interested students can contact the library for more details.