Annual Wadsworth library food drive gives unique reward to participants

Wadsworth Library hosted their week-long “Food for Fines” event from Feb. 22–Saturday Feb. 27 in celebration of Canned Food Month. “Food for Fines” gives patrons the opportunity to lessen or to completely eliminate their library fines by exchanging one non-perishable food item for $1 off their fines. The proceeds go to local food pantries such as Geneseo Groveland Food Pantry.

Wadsworth Library itself is one of Geneseo’s hidden gems for more reasons than one. Inside, you will find a homey atmosphere with walls covered in good reads, DVDs, ancient VHSs and audio books for people to enjoy. Around each corner is a new surprise, from documents dating back to the library’s founding to cozy spaces where people can go and relax with a book in hand.

Wadsworth Library frequently hosts events for the Geneseo community, striving to find engaging and innovative ways to entertain, educate or help community members out—such as with the “Food for Fines” event.

“Food for Fines” is generally held in February—which isn’t usually a time that many food drives take place. Most food drives are held around holidays that are centered heavily on foods like Christmas and Thanksgiving. During those times, the pantries are usually well stocked, but soon after, the pantries find themselves running out of foods to give to families in need.

“The library has tried to time the food drive we do here with [the time] of greatest need for the local food pantries,” Children’s Librarian Sarah Matthews said. Matthews—who has been working at Wadsworth Library for around 10 years—explained that they have been hosting “Food for Fines” for as long as she can remember.

“It’s a nice partnership because it allows you to spend less money than you would paying for your fine,” she said. She added that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are extremely popular days for donations, as families that attend the “story time” events featured on these days will typically donate.

“It creates a lot of good feeling between people who owe the library money and maybe don’t have the money to pay it,” Matthews said. “They’re able to save themselves a little money, come to the library and give in their donations [while] also helping the community.”

Matthews explained that the amount of food the library is able to collect varies by year. Sometimes, the library is able to fill up seven to eight boxes, while other times, just one may be filled. The staff tries to stay optimistic, however, as they know their efforts are making some sort of positive impact—whether small or big.

“You are saving money [while] also helping out other families in the community,” Matthews said. “I think everyone feels that they are doing their part to make a difference.”