Fairfax County Libraries Launch Food for Fines Donation Drive

Fairfax County residents looking to support their community on Giving Tuesday can start by bringing food to their local library branch. As a bonus, they can reduce any fines they might owe.

Starting today (Tuesday), Fairfax County Public Library patrons can have $1 waived from their library fines for each nonperishable food item they give to FCPL for its Food for Fines donation drive.

The donated food will go to Food for Others, marking the third time that FCPL has partnered with the Merrifield-based nonprofit. The drive will last through Dec. 31.

“We know that many thousands of Fairfax residents are in need this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” FCPL Administrative Services Division Director Ted Kavich said. “[We] are glad our library branches can serve as convenient drop-off points for those who are able to donate.”

Food for Others has seen a significant increase in need since the novel coronavirus hit Fairfax County in March, serving 4,000 households each week on average – double the number served before the pandemic, according to Bridget Snydstrup, the nonprofit’s communications coordinator.

Snydstrup says food insecurity in the county could continue to increase this winter, particularly with statewide restrictions on public gatherings, restaurants, and bars in place as part of Virginia’s efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

“So many families are struggling to afford food as a result of the pandemic,” Snydstrup said. “…Food drives like Food for Fines help us ensure that people who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut due to COVID-19 do not have to go without food.”

Food donations are being accepted at all FCPL branches that are currently operating, except for Access Services.

The most sought-after items include:

  • Canned chili
  • Canned tomato products (4 ounces-1 pound)
  • Canned meat, including chicken, beef, turkey, or seafood (2-15 ounces)
  • 16-ounce packages of rice
  • Spaghetti sauce, ideally in cans rather than glass containers (14 ounces-1 pound)
  • Canned fruit in fruit juice, not syrup (11-20 ounces)
  • Dried or canned beans
  • Pasta
  • 100% fruit juice (32-64 ounces)

Items will not be accepted if they are opened, aren’t labeled, or have been expired for more than three years. FCPL is also not able to accept homemade or cooked food.

Photo via Fairfax County Public Library

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