Guest Column: Help others while reducing fines in March

Published 7:01 pm Thursday, February 27, 2020

Guest Column, By Annice Sevett

Information, technology, community. These three words help guide what the Albert Lea Public Library provides to the citizens and visitors of Freeborn County. You may already associate the library with information and technology. We at the Albert Lea Public Library think that community is the most important.

Annice Sevett

Everything the library does is rooted in what our community needs. One way we are helping to address a community need this year is through Food for Fines. In conjunction with the Minnesota FoodShare March campaign, the Albert Lea Public Library will be collecting nonperishable, unexpired food to be donated to our local food shelves. In exchange for a donation, patrons will receive a $2 coupon to be used for fines on their library account.

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Map the Meal Gap, an annual study from Feeding America, found that in 2017, the latest year of data available on their website, about 8.5% of residents in Freeborn County experienced food insecurity, many of them children and seniors. Food insecurity is referred to as the lack of access at times to an adequate amount of food for all household members. In Minnesota, about one in 11 people experiences food insecurity, with around three million visits made to the state’s food shelves every year.

According to Minnesota FoodShare, the March Campaign has provided more than half the food distributed annually through food shelves. The March campaign brings together organizations across the state to help stock around 300 food shelves. The food donated during the March campaign has led to more than one billion meals for Minnesotans. We know the impact not having adequate food can have on our residents, and that’s why the Albert Lea Public Library is participating in the March campaign to help our local food shelves.

Join us as we participate in the Minnesota FoodShare March campaign and help our community. On your visits to the library during the month of March, don’t forget to bring in nonperishable food to donate. Examples of nonperishable items are canned fish or meat, rice, oatmeal, pasta, canned goods and nut butters. Just make sure the items you bring in are not past their expiration date. Your donation will stay in our area to help community members in need.

In exchange for your donation, you will receive a coupon for $2 off eligible library fines per donation, for a maximum of $10. The coupons never expire, so you can hold on to them until you need to use them, or gift them to someone else. It’s an easy way to help your local community and receive a small token of appreciation.

Annice Sevett is assistant library director of the Albert Lea Public Library.