Student Government, PTS planning to bring back Food for Fines program

Meghan Nguyen

Student Government is planning to partner with Parking and Transportation Services to bring back the Food for Fines program this fall, which involves collecting 40-ounce plastic jars of peanut butter to dismiss eligible parking citations.

The Food for Fines program ran as a pilot program last spring after SG proposed the implementation of the program to Parking and Transportation Services. The program was an initiative from the Isaiah-Sydney campaign during the 2016–2017 school year and was continued by the Guzman-Wolf executive alliance the following year. 

Because of its success, both SG and PTS want to bring back the program this year. 

“We’re (bringing) it back because it’s a great program that tackles both the issues of food insecurity and affordability on campus,” current SG President Colton Becker said.

Last semester, donations were accepted to the pilot program at the campus parking garages in exchange for citation forgiveness. To pay off a $15 to $35 citation, a donation of two 40-ounce peanut butter jars was required and to pay off a $75 citation, three 40-ounce jars were required. A jar of peanut butter this size can be bought for less than $8. Only one citation per student can be forgiven through the program. 

PTS director Bobby Stone said organizers are working to finalize the program for this fall and are taking suggestions from both SG and the food pantry coordinator on who will oversee it.

“Ultimately … the one change we would (make) this year is that we’d run it as an annual program in the fall instead of the spring,” Stone said. “The whole notion of the program is charitable. We’re trying to raise food for the University community, and we want to position the program in a way where it’s most beneficial to our food bank program.” 

All donations through the Food for Fines program will benefit the new campus food pantry through the Student Emergency Services, which supports students struggling with food insecurity. The pantry, called UT Outpost, aims to make nutritious food readily available to students when they need it, food pantry coordinator William Ross said.

Ross said he’s grateful for the collaborative philanthropy from PTS and SG.

“There’s clearly a need, both at the national and university level, for food security,” Ross said. “(UT Outpost) is based on community support through donations, whether it’s through alumni, student organizations or programs like Food for Fines.”