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Swap Library Fines for Food Donations

Mahwah's new 'Food for Fines' Program will allow locals to pay off their overdue book fines with donations to the Center for Food Action.

If you’re returning a late book to the Mahwah Library this month, you may not need to pay a fine, so long as you show your charitable side.

The library announced this week its new “Food for Fines” program, happening now through Dec. 27.

“We hope library patrons will participate in our ‘Food for Fines’ program and ‘pay off’ their overdue fines by bringing in packaged food to the Library,” Supervising Librarian Allison Monitz said.

“All food will be donated to the Center for Food Action and CFA will distribute the food to those in need. Mahwah library patrons will be able to reduce their overdue fines and help feed the hungry in our community at the same time with this service.” 

Each donated item will act as a $1 credit toward the reduction of existing overdue fines, up to a maximum of $20, the library announced.

The CFA is currently looking for the following items:

  • Peanut butter & jelly  
  • Canned meats 
  • Canned fruits, vegetables and tomato products
  • Canned soups and beans
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese  
  • Rice
  • Bottled 100% fruit juice
  • Cold and hot cereals
  • Infant formula & baby food
  • Diapers, baby wipes 
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dental hygiene products  

The following items are not permitted for fine reduction/donation:

  • No homemade items  
  • No open packages
  • No perishable items
  • No repackaged or expired food

There are a few rules locals need to be aware of in order to participate:

  • The food items must be brought in boxes or plastic bags to the Checkout Desk.  
  • Patrons can pay up to $20.00 of their library fines with donated food. Overdue items must be returned in good condition before the donation can be applied as payment.  Food for Fines applies to late fees only and may not be applied toward replacement fees for lost or damaged materials, lost cards and future overdue fines. Patrons must show their library cards as well.
  • The Food for Fines offer will not extend to other BCCLS libraries.

Moonitz said the library is hoping this program will catch on.

“With the holidays upon us, the library wanted to do something special for those in our community who need a helping hand,” she said. “We hope this program is successful - it's a great way for people to help their neighbors while paying off those pesky overdue fines - everybody wins!”

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