The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Whitman Library program kills two birds with one stone through food drive

Whitman County Rural Libraries host 25th annual Food for Fines through February
Whitman+County+staff+members+Sarah+Phelan%2C+Sheri+Miller%2C+Nichole+Kopp%2C+James+Morasch+and+Kathy+Buchholtz+pose+with+donations+from+the+Food+for+Fines+drive.
COURTESY OF CATALINA FLORES
Whitman County staff members Sarah Phelan, Sheri Miller, Nichole Kopp, James Morasch and Kathy Buchholtz pose with donations from the Food for Fines drive.

The Whitman County Rural Library District has been hosting the Food for Fines drive during the month of February for 25 years.

The drive allows any person who has an outstanding balance of late fees on their library account to bring food to their library, and each food item deducts one dollar from their late fees. The food is then donated to local food pantries to be given to families in need.

“I think it ‘kills two birds with one stone,’ so to speak … allows an opportunity to not have to pay fines with a way to give back to other families in need throughout our community,” Paige Collins, Council of Aging and Human Services executive director, wrote in an email.

Catalina Flores, Colfax Library public services manager, said she oversees all 14 branches in Whitman County. In February, she is in charge of making sure all branches have the right information, keeping logs of people who donate, ensuring all branches have fliers and connecting over social media.

“I think it is a great cause,” Flores said. “It’s a way of supporting our local families and community members in the way they support us by coming in through our doors.”

The local food banks have collected approximately $20,000 through the Food for Fines drive ever since the program started in 1999, Flores said. Although participation slowed through the pandemic, people are beginning to participate again.

Currently, the libraries have stopped accruing late fees since the pandemic, but there are still multiple people who participate in the drive simply to pay it forward. Last year, the libraries received food that amounted to approximately $731, and they used $186 to waive fines.

“In Colfax, we receive hundreds of pounds of donated food each year through this program, so it definitely directly benefits families in need in each town that does this,” Collins wrote.

The number of people benefiting from food banks has grown, Flores said. With rising inflation and food costs, the community benefits from the food banks and the February food drive.

“Those who cannot afford to pay fines can do a good deed and get their fines reduced at the same time, and the food pantries definitely benefit from the program,” Collins wrote.

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About the Contributor
ANNA ADAMS, Managing editor
Anna Adams started at The Daily Evergreen her senior year in October 2023 as a life reporter and multimedia editor. Currently, in the spring 2024 semester, she is the managing editor. Anna is a Pullman native and is studying multimedia journalism. In her free time she enjoys reality tv, traveling and trying new coffee shops.