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Overdue library books net Ozarks Food Harvest 8,300 pounds of food

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Last edited 1:20 p.m., Feb. 14, 2011

Patrons of the Springfield-Greene County Library District donated 8,357 pounds of food to the Ozarks Food Harvest during the library’s Food for Fines campaign Jan. 23-29. The nonperishable food – more than four tons – will provide more than 6,400 meals for hungry people in the Ozarks.

And it’s all because of overdue library fines.

About 80,000 library cardholders owe some level of fines or fees at any given time. The library district partnered with Ozarks Food Harvest to use overdue fines to reduce hunger in the area.

In the second year of Food For Fines, patrons received 50 cents off their overdue fine balance for each item of nonperishable food taken to a library branch during the campaign.

“Food for Fines has become one of the Food Bank’s top five annual food drives,” Lindsey Neddenriep, Ozarks Food Harvest spokeswoman, said in a news release. “For just a weeklong food drive event, this amount is amazing.

“We can’t thank the library and its supporters enough for their continued efforts to help feed our neighbors in need.”

This year’s total topped the 2010 amount of 6,261 by 2,096 pounds. In turn, the library forgave about $3,400 in overdue fines this year.

“The library is very much a part of the community, and when it started, we thought it would be a good way for some people who are having trouble to take care of their fines,” Regina Greer Cooper, library director, said in the release. “We looked at the budget and decided we could offer this opportunity again this year because there was such a positive response from the public.

“And in fact, part of the donations came from people who didn’t have fines to pay but thought it was a good idea.”

Ozarks Food Harvest's food bank doles out nearly 9 million pounds of food annually to agencies that serve poverty stricken children, poor families and seniors in 28 southwest Missouri counties, reaching more than 14,000 people weekly.[[In-content Ad]]

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