Fight hunger and erase library fines

Patrons returning an overdue book to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center this month can get a break on their late fees while also helping Philabundance provide food for the less fortunate in the Philadelphia region.

Van Pelt’s “Food for Fines” food drive and amnesty program will give patrons a $1 credit toward their account—up to $20—for each food item dropped off at the Library’s 1st floor circulation desk. (The amnesty applies to late fees only and not charges to replace lost books.)

The food donations must be non-perishable items packaged in boxes, cans or plastic bottles. Canned items such as tuna, beef stew, chili, pasta, fruits and vegetables are among the most needed. Other suggested donations include breakfast cereals, jelly and creamy peanut butter.

“We thought it would be interesting to join the community [giving] effort, which is extensive at this time of year,” says Marjorie Hassen, director of public services for Penn Libraries.

“Food for Fines” benefits Philabundance, and also helps Van Pelt by returning overdue books into circulation.

Fines for overdue items often amount to as little as 10 cents per day. However, Reserve items, on loan for only 2 to 6 hours, carry a $1 per-hour lateness penalty. “They’re supposed to be short-term loans and if a student doesn’t bring it back, [the fees] can rack up quickly,” Hassan says.

The amnesty program is only being offered for books checked out from Van Pelt, but Hassan says if the initiative proves successful, it could be expanded next year to include Penn’s 14 other libraries across campus.

“Food for Fines” runs through the end of November. Even if you don’t owe Van Pelt any fees, food donations are still welcome.

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Canned Goods