Cuelenaere Library exchanging food for fines

Jason Kerr
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Prince Albert’s John M. Cuelenaere Public Library is hoping to kill two birds with one stone with their Food for Fines initiative.


Starting on Monday the library will cancel $2 from an outstanding late fee in exchange for each item of food donated to the Prince Albert Food Bank.

“I think people always are generous here in our community, and we just really want to help the food bank,” library services co-ordinator Sharon Nelson says.

The library first started holding the campaign two years ago as part of Saskatchewan Library Week.  Nelson says they were eager to start the campaign up again after seeing how successful it was.

“When that opportunity comes up people tend to respond very well and that’s why it’s been quite successful,” Nelson says.  “I know the food bank is always in need of food.”

She’s not kidding about the need.  Recently the Prince Albert Share-A-Meal Food Bank revealed that they saw record numbers of people use the service in the last two months and were worried about summer stability.

“We just encourage people to come on in.  It helps people out with their fines and it also helps the community,” Nelson says.

Library patrons are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items, such as canned goods, to the library’s main desk.  Afterwards the library will waive their fees, up to a maximum of $30.  The campaign started on April 14 and will run for three weeks.

Nelson doesn’t know exactly how much food they collected during their last campaign, but says they were pleased with what they accumulated.  She says they’re always eager to help people, whether it’s with finding something to eat or finding ways to pay their fines.

“It’s very successful,” she says.  “People really respond.”

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