Food for Fines pilot program to waive UT parking citations through peanut butter donations

Anna Lassmann

The Food for Fines pilot program, through Parking and Transportation Services and Student Government, is collecting 40-ounce plastic jars of peanut butter to dismiss eligible parking citations.

“(Food for Fines) gives students an inexpensive way to resolve a parking citation that offers something back to the campus community and it helps the (campus) to build food reserves for the campus food bank,” PTS director Bobby Stone said.

The pilot program began accepting donations April 11, and the last day to donate will be April 27. Donations are being accepted to the pilot program at the campus parking garages during their weekday hours.

Citations eligible for peanut butter donations must have been issued between August 16 and April 10 of the current academic school year. To pay off a $15 to $35 citation, a donation of two 40-ounce peanut butter jars is required, and to pay off a $75 citation three 40-ounce jars are required. Only one citation may be forgiven through Food for Fines.

“Peanut butter has a long shelf life,” Stone said. “It is a protein that both vegetarians and non-vegetarians can eat and it’s something that food banks across the United States routinely like to collect because of its shelf-life and the fact that it’s a protein.”

All donations through the Food for Fines pilot program will benefit the new campus food pantry through the Student Emergency Services, which food pantry coordinator William Ross said supports students whom need food.

“We want to support the students who are struggling with food insecurity,” Ross said. “We also want to encourage an educational understanding around food insecurity within the UT community.”

The food pantry began raising awareness and building inventory in January, and will be fully open to all students on May 4. 

Ross said the Food for Fines program is a way to help sustain the food pantry initiative. 

“I think what’s great about (Food for Fines) is that it is one of a many-pronged approach to sustain the food pantry,” Ross said. “I think a lot of students, faculty and staff get parking tickets occasionally and (now) they get a way to support a good cause and waive those fees under certain tickets.”

SG put a proposal together for PTS to initiate the implementation of Food for Fines. SG Vice President Micky Wolf said Food for Fines was an initiative the Isaiah-Sydney campaign ran on last year, and SG wanted to see it implemented this year.

After the end of the pilot program, PTS will have to look at the financial impact of the program to see whether they can still generate their necessary funds before permanently instating Food for Fines, Stone said.

“While I think (Food for Fines) is a great program that has a lot of value to the campus, we’ll have to weigh in on the financial impact versus the impact back to campus to see if it’s worthy for us to
continue it,” Stone said.

Wolf, a Plan II and business honors senior, said he hopes to see Food for Fines become a yearly or, semesterly part of PTS.

“I think that it’s a really valuable initiative and I’m glad that we’ll be able to help support it, while also make students’ cost expenses go down a little bit,” Wolf said.