Back by popular demand by students, faculty, and staff, the Department of Public Safety and the University’s Save Our Students (SOS) Food Pantry have brought back the Food for Fines program to help pay for parking citations while also providing food for the program
According to Michael Kasitz, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, “We (the police department) have received positive feedback from students, faculty, and staff who have utilized this program.”
This program allows individuals who have received an APSU parking ticket the opportunity to provide food to APSU students in need in lieu of paying the parking ticket.
According to a press release, this year’s Food for Fines more than doubled in participation, resulting in a total of 406 tickets being counted as paid from student accounts.
Additionally, the program’s participation has more than tripled since its inception, growing from 119 participants to 370 participants in 2017.
“Since we have done this (Food for Fines) in December for four years, we started getting calls in October asking if we were going to be doing the program again.” said Kasitz.
In addition to this, participation in the SOS Food Pantry itself has also witnessed a drastic increase in the number of applicants this fall.
SOS went from 72 applicants in the Fall of 2012 to 477 applicants in the Fall of 2017 according to Alexandra Wills, director of the APSU Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement.
Wills does not know the reason for the sudden uptake in applicants.
However, Wills said, “I expect that people will be paying high utility bills (in correlation with the weather) and therefore budget areas like groceries will likely feel the pinch (resulting in more applicants).”
According to a press release, to participate in the Food for Fines program, an individual must donate a minimum of 10 canned food items, a 12 oz. box of cereal, an 8 oz. box of instant potatoes or 2 lbs. of frozen meat per ticket.
“We allow each person to have up to two citations waived, as long as the citations are not for parking in an ADA Accessible parking space,” said Kasitz.
This partnership particularly benefits students by lowering the cost of their fine to that of the donated items while also exposing them to the power of helping others.
According to Kasitz, food prices ranged from $10-$12 which pays for the citation.
“The average food donation is approximately $10-$12, which pays for a $25- $35 parking citation,” Kasitz said. “We had a tremendous increase in participation this year. More than two times the amount of people bringing in donations in lieu of parking fines than we had in the 2016 campaign.”
Additionally, service-learning is a focus of the University’s strategic goals for student engagement, according to a press release.
In accordance to a press release, Alexandra Wills, said “Students have been using our pantry services in greater numbers than ever before, so having such a large donation coming from the Food for Fines program is fantastic timing.”
“It means a lot to our pantry users when they see boxes and boxes of food donations coming in everyday. It shows we have a campus who cares.”
APSU’s Public Safety staff and campus police officers also look forward to the effort.
The parking patrol staff even look forward to helping students that they may have issued the tickets to.
“Our department gets excited every year about this program because we know how much this benefits our community,” Kasitz said, according to a press release.
“There are times when a student will come in to participate in the program, but don’t have the required number of food items to have the ticket waived.”
“Our officers, security guards and dispatchers voluntarily bring in food items for this type of occasion. They donate to further help students.”
The Food for Fines program helps bring individuals on campus together by promoting service for others.