Food for Fines Alleviates Hunger in Community

A barrel filled with non-perishable food items
by juneli
Categories: Divisional News
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By: June Li

“Poverty finds ways to hide, and homelessness finds a way to blend in,” says James Dark, Community Services Coordinator and Youth Director. Though you may not see it, poverty often exists in places you least expect, such as in suburban neighbourhoods like Ajax, Ontario. In 2016, nearly 1,400 households accessed emergency shelters in the Durham region alone.

To combat hunger in the community, The Hope Community Church in Ajax partnered with the Town of Ajax and the Ajax Public Library to organize an Easter Food Drive called ‘Food for Fines’. For nearly three weeks, barrels were placed in public libraries across town. To encourage community involvement, the library waived fees in lieu of donations, with each non-perishable food item amounting to $1.00 in fines. “Food for Fines is a good way to take responsibility for returning an overdue book and rather than paying the late fee, you are giving back to the community,” says Dark.

Need Exists Year Round

Programs like Food for Fines are crucial to the success of local food banks. Though food donations tend to increase during the holiday season, inventory dwindles down as soon as the new year begins. Unfortunately, bare shelves mean hungry bellies.

Thankfully, programs like Food for Fines give new hope. “We have clients signing up for our food bank every day and with Food for Fines happening in the springtime, it helps us make sure that our shelves are staying full during the Summer months.”

Through the initiative of the Town of Ajax, Hope Community Church is able to continue to meet the growing needs of the community. Thanks to the generosity of the community, Food for Fines raised over 750 lbs of non-perishable food items!