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"Market Watch" featured Pace University's Birnbaum librarian Alicia Joseph-Marino in "These colleges are letting students pay late fees and parking tickets by feeding the hungry "


"Market Watch" featured Pace University's Birnbaum librarian Alicia Joseph-Marino in "These colleges are letting students pay late fees and parking tickets by feeding the hungry "

Donating food gets these students exempt from paying fines at colleges like the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, Pace University and SUNY Oswego 

Helping the hungry gets these college students off the hook.

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown started its “Food 4 Fines” program on Monday, allowing college kids to reduce or waive unpaid citations by donating non-perishable food items. It’s an initiative for students to save a few bucks and do good ahead of the holidays, the university told Moneyish.

All students with parking permits who have unpaid tickets can bring boxes of spaghetti, pasta or sauce to their student government association office through Dec. 7. Students can get $5 off their fine if they bring in three boxes of pasta; $5 off with two 24-ounce jars of sauce; $10 off with a 60-ounce jar of sauce and a box of pasta; and $5 off of every additional three boxes of pasta or two jars of sauce. Everything will go to Family Kitchen in Johnstown, Penn., a non-profit that provides up to 100,000 meals for those in need each year.

“We thought it would be a really cool program to raise awareness on food insecurity,” Sam Miller, 22, the student government president at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, told Moneyish, adding that campus parking fines can range anywhere from $15 to $50.

The program nixed $95 worth of parking tickets just hours after its launch on Monday afternoon, the school confirmed, and collected 37 boxes of pasta and 22 jars of sauce. These ingredients can help make spaghetti dinners for at least 150 local families this season.

Around 795 million people in the world do not have enough access to food to lead a healthy life, and one in seven people are hungry, according to statistics from the Food Aid Foundation. What’s more, one-third of all food grown globally is wasted or lost, that’s $3 trillion worth of food, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. And with a startling 94% of Americans admitting to throwing away food at home, a number of other colleges have pledged to pitch in by donating unopened cans and other foods to reduce waste, do good and have students save their own money in the process.

SUNY Oswego ran a similar Foods for Fines program where students could donate pre-packaged, unopened foods and get $1 per item taken off of their library fees from Nov. 1 through this past Thanksgiving. And Pace University in New York City started up the same program in 2007, collecting canned soups, noodles, cereals, beans and other dry foods in exchange for exemption from library fees for overdue books.

“We thought, why not waive the fines for a cause and feed the hungry?” said Alicia Joseph-Marino, a librarian at Pace University, adding that dozens of students have participated during the holidays. Since its inception more than a decade ago, the program has donated up to $3,000 worth of food to City Harvest, New York City’s largest food rescue organization. For every can students bring in, they get $1 taken off their fines; so if a student owes $5 and brings in five non-perishable food items that they have laying around their dorm room, their fines would be cleared.

As millennials and Gen Z show continued interest in supporting causes that give back or do good, implementing initiatives like “Food for Fines” at schools can be a no-brainer. Forty percent of millennials are more likely to buy a product or use a service that supports a cause. What’s more, 45% of millennials think they can contribute to a cause they are passionate about through a brand or company, compared to just 27% of people from other generations, Forbes reported. And 30% of Gen Z -- people born after 1996 -- donate to a charitable organization in their lifetime, while 60% say that want to work to make a difference in the world, according to a survey by

“We pursued this idea because the students wanted to do it,” Miller said. “They wanted to make an impact.” 

Read the article.