'Food4Fines' linking library customers with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - If you have an overdue book or movie from the Cuyahoga County Public Library this may be the month to return it.

The 'Food4Fines' program is giving patrons an opportunity to reduce their library fines while helping the Greater Cleveland Food Bank secure much needed items.

"The need continues to increase in our area," said Karen Pozna, director of communications at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. "Yes there are people who are getting back to work, but they're lower paying jobs and people are still struggling. So you don't want them to have to make the choice between food or medicine or food and utilities. This program is so key to that.

Nearly half of the people the food bank serve are children or elderly. 'Food4Fines' contributes to the food bank's annual 'Harvest for Hunger' campaign.

"Our goal this year is to raise enough for 21 million meals," Pozna said.

The Cuyahoga County Public Library has seen much success with 'Food4Fines' and said it's an honor to partner with the food bank.

"Last March, we actually waived about $19,000 in fines and we actually raised about 22,350 pounds of food during that month," said Robert Rua, assistant director of marketing and communications with the Cuyahoga County Public Library.

Here's how the 'Food4Fines' program works:

During the month of March, the library will reduce customers fines by $1 for every canned or boxed food item donated- up to $4 dollars per visit. But the library is only accepting certain items: Cereal, peanut butter, canned soup, canned vegetables, canned beef stew and canned tuna fish. Food that is collected will be delivered to the food bank.

"I think it will definitely be a huge blessing for everyone and it's a great way for the library to give back," said Geri Thacker who visits the Parma branch often.

Volunteering with the Cleveland Food Bank has been Helen Brown's life since retirement.

"Sometimes you're at home (and) you're feeling sorry for yourself," Brown said. "You go out and volunteer and it gives you a lift. It makes me feel real rewarded that I'm helping somebody else- to feed the hungry is very important.

Brown encourages anyone who's able to volunteer and donate.

Do you plan on volunteering for a long time you think," reporter Damon Maloney asked Brown.

"I hope so," Brown said. "I'm 88-years-old now. I hope I can do it until I'm 98."

Anyone can donate food or make a cash donation at any Cuyahoga County Public Library branch during the 'Food4Fines' program.

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