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Food donations can wipe out library fines at ETSU

Rex Barber • Nov 8, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Students with library fines at East Tennessee State University can settle things with a can or two of food through the end of the semester.

Patricia Van Zandt, dean of libraries at ETSU, said the Sherrod Library will allow borrowers to donate non-perishable food items rather than paying late fees through the “Food for Fines” campaign. The library will waive $2 in accrued fines for each item given, according to the school.

All food collected will be donated to Bucky’s Food Pantry, which distributes food to students, faculty and staff who are in need.

Van Zandt said food has never been collected for late fees but Carolyn Bond and Jeri Paddock, both of whom work at the library, had wanted to do it in years’ past, with collected food being donated to a local food pantry.

“But we felt that since we now have the food pantry here on campus that benefits our own faculty, staff and students who are in need that this would be a really good time to resurrect that idea and get it through,” she said.

When the food pantry was opened earlier this year, administrators cited a study that indicated more than 20 percent of students at ETSU were considered “food insecure” and nearly 25 percent were at risk of being designated as such.

“I think they were totally in a way shocked to find that just getting food on the table was a major need of many of our graduate students,” Van Zandt said.

The campaign has been going on a few days now and some food has been donated. Van Zandt thinks more will come in once registration begins for next semester in a week or so and students realize they have holds on their accounts due to library fines.

“So we’re assuming that that’s going to bring us in some canned food pretty quickly once people want to get registered for classes,” Van Zandt said.

There could be the potential for the pantry to become well stocked due to the program.

Van Zandt said library fines have been going down in recent years because many people now use electronic sources rather than books, so fines often do not apply; however, this past November and December, students paid about $2,200 in fines for overdue books.

Van Zandt was involved with a similar program at her former institution and said typically people bring in more food than is needed to cover the fine.

“People are usually generous, and so even though we’ll wave $2 of a fine for one can, I tend to think that we’re going to get more than that,” she said.

Anyone can bring in canned goods, even if they returned their books on time.

According to the school, foods especially needed include canned meat and fish; evaporated milk and other canned or boxed dairy items; breads and cereals, canned fruits, vegetables, juices and soups; dried fruits; baby food; and miscellaneous items such as peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, canned nuts, jams, jellies, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, sugar and flour.

Glass containers, home-canned items, and Ramen noodles cannot be donated.

The Sherrod Library will also not accept food in lieu of charges for lost items or issue credits against future fines.

For more information, call Jeri Paddock at 439-8553, Carolyn Bond at 439-4234 or the ETSU Circulation Desk at 439-4303.

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