Food for Fines Program is Back for Seconds

For Immediate Release
March 26, 2019

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Amnesty program forgives library fines and fees up to $100 at all Santa Clara County Library District libraries during the entire month of April

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Starting on Tuesday, April 2, the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) is holding a second round of its Food for Fines program, in which patrons can waive up to $100 in fines and fees in exchange for a non-perishable food donation of any amount. In its initial month-long offering in 2018, the equivalent of nearly 30,000 meals were collected for the food insecure in partnership with Second Harvest of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

“Food for Fines was successful last year in welcoming our patrons back to the library and generating much needed food for our neighbors,” stated County Librarian Nancy Howe. “We hope to see an even greater level of participation among library users and continued generosity from all of our communities.”

Last year’s program saw thousands of library patrons take part, with nearly $150,000 in fines and fees waived. Over 5,300 individuals were able to zero out their account balances thanks to Food for Fines. Many community members took part in the program even though they did not have any outstanding fees or fines, they just wanted to do their part to help those in need. There were even patrons who paid their fines and made a food donation.  The Library always appreciates receiving any lost items back, no matter how long they’ve gone missing.

“Having an outstanding fine or fee can discourage patrons from fully utilizing their local library,” said County Supervisor and Library Joint Powers Authority Board Chairman, Mike Wasserman. “Food for Fines allows individuals to make good with the library in a cost friendly manner, while also helping others in the community who require food assistance.”

Food for Fines will be available at each of SCCLD’s seven community libraries and one branch library, as well as through its Bookmobile. Patrons simply bring their food donations to the Accounts Desk during normal business hours to have up to $100 in fines and fees waived. In the case of lost or expired library cards, or those who would like to sign up for a free library card, participants should simply bring any valid form of photo identification in order to take part. A list of most needed and allowable food donations can be found at

All the food collected through Food for Fines will go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties, which supports over 250,000 Silicon Valley residents monthly, half of them children or seniors. With an estimated 83.6 million meals missed every year among particularly vulnerable Santa Clara County households, there is a need to take action. This program allows patrons to easily return to good standing while at the same time doing something meaningful for those in need.

“We were delighted with the huge response to Santa Clara County Library District’s first Food for Fines amnesty program last year and are thrilled to see the momentum continue again this year,” said Leslie Bacho, CEO of Second Harvest. “Food for Fines is a great way for the community to step up and help the 1 in 4 people in Silicon Valley who are struggling with hunger.”

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About the Santa Clara County Library District

The Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) promotes knowledge, ideas, and cultural enrichment. Its collection includes more than 2 million books, videos, CDs, DVDs, Audiobooks, eBooks and extensive online resources accessible from home or work. In 2014, SCCLD celebrated one hundred years of service to local residents. For the last eleven years, SCCLD has been consistently recognized as one of America’s Star Libraries by Library Journal. In 2018, SCCLD was ranked among the top ten large libraries in the United States in the Library Journal Index of Public Library Service. In 2014 and 2015, SCCLD won Innovator Awards from the Urban Libraries Council.

SCCLD includes two bookmobiles, an online library, seven community libraries and one branch library serving Campbell, Cupertino, Gilroy, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Saratoga and the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County. In 2018, SCCLD had nearly 370,000 library account holders and welcomed 3.3 million visitors who borrowed 9.85 million items.

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Nancy Howe/Diane Roche/Erik Sanjurjo
Santa Clara County Library District
(408) 293-2326 ext. 3001/3080/3014