Depending on where you live, paying off your parking tickets could be a chance to give back to the underserved members of your community this holiday season. Towns, cities, and universities across the country are embracing food for fines programs: initiatives that allow residents to settle their parking debts by donating non-perishable food items.
Accepting canned goods in lieu of cash parking ticket payments isn't a new practice. Lexington, Kentucky has been running holiday food for fines drives since 2013. Even in larger cities, like Las Vegas, such programs have proven successful. Recently in Muncie, Indiana, the local police department used it as an opportunity to collect pet supplies instead of pantry staples.
The model has become more popular in recent years, and this holiday season, it will be easier than ever to find a food for fines program near you. In Bay Village, Ohio, a city located about 15 miles west of Cleveland, officials are looking for non-perishables to provide to the local Bay Food Ministry. Individual items are worth $5 in owed parking fines, with the town waiving up to $25 per person.
Universities are also hopping on board the trend. At the University of Colorado Boulder, students can donate five items to have their parking tickets forgiven. Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania has already collected more than 100 cans from students through its own food for fines program.
Many of the initiatives will run through this Friday and conclude ahead of Thanksgiving week, so if you have a parking ticket you need to pay off, contact your local parking services office soon to see if it's participating.