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Library Program Garners 5,000 Pounds of Food for Region's Needy

Library customers were able to exchange food for a reduction of fines

More than 5,000 pounds of food was collected this month from Ocean County Library system patrons during the "Food for Fines" program.

The Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties received the bounty last week after patrons at the library system's 21 locations exchanged food for a reduction in overdue library fines, capped at $20 per person.

“The “Food for Fines” program would not have been possible without the partnership of the Ocean County Health Department,” library Director Susan Quinn said. “They approached the library with the idea for running the program when they saw an urgent need in the community through the work they do every day in promoting healthy lifestyles and providing leadership in consistent, quality health-care for the community.”

The library waived $1,707.50 in fines for the program.

“This was outstanding for a one-week drive,” said Linda Keenan, the food bank’s Director of Development, “and this makes a great impact on hunger in Ocean County.”

This year's program improved on 2009's total, when 4,165 pounds of food was collected during National Library Week.

Last year, the FoodBank distributed food to more than  250 partner agencies; currently 121 of them are in Ocean County. Those agencies distributed food in their neighborhoods to more than 127,000 people in need, or 1 in every 10 Monmouth and Ocean County residents.

The FoodBank also has 12 mobile pantry sites in Ocean County (that increases to 15 during the summer) serving more than 500 households per month; a senior program that serves 171 Ocean County seniors; and a culinary job skills training program.

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