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Program turns fines into food Allison K. Sampite | Sat, Nov 27 2010 12:00 PM

The Chula Vista Library's Food for Fines program is giving residents with delinquent library fines an opportunity to erase them for free through Dec. 24.

This is the second year the library has partnered with South Bay Community Services to aid residents with library fines up to $10 while benefitting local families in need.

Chula Vista Library Director Betty Waznis said the program benefits the community while reminding people the library is an accessible resource.

"People in Chula Vista have a heart for welcoming us back as their neighbors," Waznis said.

Two years ago Waznis found that this type of program was successful at libraries in other areas and said the library is always looking for creative ways to better serve the public.

Last year more than 200 people participated in the program and the library collected 1,258 items, which equaled more than one ton of food. Waznis said the amount of participation was encouraging because even people who had no fines donated food.

"It's a nice way for people to follow through and do something positive for the community, especially at this time of year," Johnson said.

Erica Johnson is the community relations coordinator for South Bay Community Services and said the donations are constantly distributed to families throughout the season and mostly on a weekly basis.

"Some of the donations go directly to shelters for domestic violence victims and others are broken up into packages for families as emergency food," she said.

"We're very excited to do this again this year with the library," Johnson said.

Joy Whatley is the south branch manager for the Chula Vista Public Library and said that about 8,000 of the 950,000 books that are in circulation are late and subject to fines.

"The program is a great way to allow people to clear their fines and help others as well," she said.

The library accepts nonperishable items that can be shelved including canned vegetables, tuna fish and dried pasta for up to $1 worth in fines for each item. Up to $10 of library fines per card will be waived in exchange for donated food. Donations only clear fines, not lost or damaged books or collection agency fees.

Non-nutritious items such as candy, chips and cookies, damaged containers and expired food will not be accepted in place of fines.

South Bay Community Services is recognized as the region's most significant provider of affordable housing and supportive services, it offers resources such as fair housing assistance, financial literacy, counseling and job readiness training within its Community Development Department.

Residents who do not owe fines are also encouraged to donate. Food will be accepted at the following branch libraries: Civic Center, 365 F St., (619) 691-5069; south Chula Vista, 389 Orange Ave., (619) 585-5755; and Eastlake, 1120 Eastlake Parkway, (619) 397-3980.

For more information visit any of the city's libraries or www.chulavistalibrary.com.

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