This winter, the city of Lexington, Kentucky, is offering its residents a temporary alternative to paying their parking tickets. For five weeks over the holiday season, the city is letting anyone with a parking ticket pay off or reduce the violation by donating food to those in need.
A $15 ticket, for instance, can be paid off by donating 10 cans of food to a local food bank. For multiple citations, each 10-can donation can be used to knock $15 off the ticket.
Lexington first launched the Food for Fines program in 2014, after learning about similar relief programs conducted across college campuses. Last year, the city collected over 6,000 cans of food to be distributed across the city’s food banks. The city also considered accepting toy donations to reduce parking fines, but chose food because “it’s just a basic necessity,” Gary Means, director of the Lexington Parking Authority, told Fast Company.
The program has also inspired other cities across the U.S. to adopt similar initiatives in order to provide more resources for the needy during the holiday season. In Chicago, the suburb of Hanover Park will waive fines for the majority of parking violations through the end of the year if residents bring 10 cans of food to the Hanover Park Police Department. In Tallahassee, Florida, the police commissioner is letting drivers pay off up to $50 worth of fines by donating food for Second Harvest, a food bank where demand is particularly high during this time of year.