During the month of December, the La Crosse Police Department is accepting non-perishable food and clothing donations as payment for parking citations.
The Food for Fines program was the idea of the Parking Utility department after they reached its budget for the 2019 fiscal year.
“Nobody likes to get those parking tickets, but we do live in a very generous area and I think that they’re more willing to perhaps pay that parking ticket off with a donation to a food pantry and assist others,” said Sgt. Tom Walsh of the La Crosse Police Department.
Any parking ticket qualifies for the program.
A person looking to pay with a donation needs to bring in a receipt that shows the same amount of money was spent on food or clothing as the fine was for.
“To date, and remember we are early into December, we’ve had 25 citations turned in worth $930 worth of food that has been donated,” Walsh said. “We’ve also had an additional two citations that were turned in with $90 worth of clothing.”
The police department chose Northside Elementary in La Crosse to receive their first round of food donations and the school says it was a great help to their students.
“This is the kind of thing that helps our families in our community make it through our winter break,” said Laura Huber, principal at Northside Elementary School.
Northside Elementary says most of the donations provided by the police department have already been sent home with students.
Their school pantry has seen over 1,200 visitors since July, most grabbing items for the whole family.
“In order for a child to be successful all of the needs and the needs of the family need to be addressed,” said Huber. “So, we have a food pantry that allows us to address food insecurity for families.”
The police department will look to continue helping pantries in need with the next round of donations.
“Smaller food pantries that may struggle a little bit getting those donations, those are the ones we’re really trying to restock and assist,” Walsh said.
The Food for Fines program is available through the end of the year.