A FINE WAY TO FIGHT HUNGER
Local libraries swap fines for food.
WRITTEN BY CHRISTINA NELLEMANN
PHOTO BY CANDICE VIVIEN
Jocelyn Lantrip sorts donated food at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada
If you kept your latest library book out a little too long, this April your overdue fine will be forgiven in exchange for a food donation to combat hunger in the Reno-Tahoe area. From April 1 – 30, the Washoe County Library System will celebrate 15 years of its Food for Fines program. During the month, library patrons can give one nonperishable food item to their local libraries for each overdue item or fine (food cannot be exchanged for lost or damaged library materials). Of course, the food barrels also are available to patrons who return their books on time and want to donate.
During last November’s Food for Fines, Washoe County libraries collected more than 5,900 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. Library managers hope to match or exceed that amount this year. The Incline Village branch’s food barrel contents will be donated to Project MANA, a program that provides emergency food, education, and food security to community members in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.
“We love to work with the food bank, and they are a great resource for us,” says Jeff Scott, director of the Washoe County Library System. “We have so many distribution sites, and there are so many ways we can help the community with multiple locations.”
Close the book on hunger
According to Jocelyn Lantrip, director of marketing and communications at FBNN, the best foods to donate for the Food for Fines project include protein items such as peanut butter, tuna, canned meats, and beans. Canned meals such as hearty soups, stews, and chili are needed as well as canned fruits in juice, low-sodium canned vegetables, and whole-grain pasta, rice, and cereal.
In addition to the Food for Fines program, library system managers now are partnering with the food bank to serve lunch to area children on summer break. According to Cheryl Le, child nutrition manager at FBNN, about 45 percent of Washoe County’s public-school children qualify for subsidized school lunches. However, those lunches are not available during the summer. With support from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program, each of the Washoe County libraries receives a cooler of food every business day to serve free lunches to children in the Kids Café program. Last summer, the libraries served a combined 1,620 lunches.
“We are proud of how we serve Washoe County residents with food,” Scott says, “and how we serve our children in the summertime, too.”
For details on the Food for Fines program, visit Washoecountylibrary.us.
Christina Nellemann is a local writer who is happy to see appropriate nutrition becoming important in Reno-Tahoe communities and schools.