Loudoun County Public Library’s Food for Fines food drive this year collected 15,500 pounds of food and waived $15,100 in overdue fees, nearly doubling the totals for last year.
Now in its third year, during the weeklong event the library erases one dollar in late fees for each canned or boxed food item donated. The food is then given to Loudoun Hunger Relief, Loudoun County’s largest food pantry.
This year’s campaign ran from April 8-14. By the end of the drive, 499 boxes packed with food had piled up in the halls of the library’s administration office.
“This is now our second-largest food drive of the year,” said Erika Huddleston, associate director of Loudoun Hunger Relief, as she helped load boxes of food onto the organization’s trucks Wednesday, April 17. “Having a drive this time of year is really beneficial, because it gives us the chance to stock up before summer.”
Loudoun Hunger Relief representatives said they typically have their highest demand in summer, when families with school-age children sometimes need extra support in lieu of school-based meal services, officials said.
Last year, the Food for Fines drive generated 8,908 pounds of food for Loudoun Hunger Relief, with $8,600 in overdue fees waived from the accounts of library users.
This year’s drive was organized by Christyna Hunter, a Lovettsville Library staff member, and Karen Warner, from Purcellville Library’s circulation department. They said Food for Fines not only helps the library recover lost items, but, more importantly offers a chance for customers to clear their accounts—and feel good about doing it.
“Our goal is to encourage people to use the library again. Often times, when you have fines, you don’t want to come back to the library,” Hunter said. “It’s important for people to know that no matter what, we want them in the library.”
All nine Loudoun County Public Library branches participated in Food for Fines, with the most fines waived at Cascades Library, $2,853, and Ashburn Library, $2,783.
“We were delighted to accept a number of food donations from library users who didn’t have fines on their account,” said Chang Liu, Loudoun County Public Library Director. “Those pay-it-forward donations were used to help other cardholders who needed a little extra assistance covering their fines.”