MIDDLEBURY -- Usually, the Middlebury Public Library takes in around $500 in fines each month. Until Dec. 27, though, they'll be taking in a little less money and a little more corn, green beans and spaghetti.
The library has put on their Food for Fines program for several years, collecting non-perishable goods in exchange for fines and giving most of the goods to the Middlebury Food Pantry. Some also goes to the Jefferson Food Pantry.
In other words, if you have a $10 fine, you can pay it back with 10 food items.
Terry Rheinheimer, director of the library said large fines aren't usual. They charge 10 cents every day an item is overdue, but the charge maxes out at $4.
Rita Henehan, public relations director, said that "a lot of people kind of wait if they've had a lot of fines because it's a good deal all around."
Rheinheimer and Henehan both said it was difficult to say how much they had brought in during past collections but that the community had been generous.
"I think it's the growing concern with the food banks being in need" that prompts the library's efforts, Henehan said. "It's a way for us to help our patrons and the food banks."
"This is just a guess, but of the people who have fines, I'd say 75 percent pay with food during the program," she said.
The food drive began Friday and runs through Dec. 27.