Food for Fines

A program offering students forgiveness of traffic ticket fees for donation nonperishable food items began Monday and will last until Friday.

Hunger Jacks, the Student Government Association and the Parking and Traffic Department are working together on this project.

“SGA proposed the idea on behalf of Hunger Jacks to the parking and traffic department,” said Jessica Cuitareo, Hunger Jacks president. “Once it was approved, Hunger Jacks supplied a list of items that were running low in the pantry. Together we were able to create an event that would help raise donations and awareness for the pantry.”

For every 10 items, one citation is removed from a student’s bill. Acceptable donations include canned goods, rice, peanut butter and jelly. Students should take items to the Parking and Traffic Office located next to the Wilson Garage.

Upon bringing in donations, students will fill out a form with student information and citation numbers that a Parking and Traffic staff member will sign. The Parking and Traffic Office asks that students fill this form out beforehand if possible.

“They can bring in 10 items per citation, and it has to be a citation they received this semester,” said Cynthia Haile, director of parking and traffic. “This is the first time we’ve ever run this program before. I’ve done it at other places I’ve worked at but not at SFA. They can get up to three citations taken off their bill. Citations have to be the $30 and the $40 citations, so we’re not doing the handicap, boot tickets, reserved parking. You can’t come in with a $150 handicap ticket, that’s not going to apply for this.”

Along with helping students with their fees, the Food for Fines program aims to raise awareness for the Hunger Jacks food pantry and create a better relationship between students and the parking staff.

“In this program, we’re almost like the middle man because we’re linking the bridge between Parking and Traffic and our food pantry, and those are two key departments here on this campus,” said Jeffrey Agouna, student body president. “We are wanting to be able to help the students as far as assisting the food pantry. Students get tickets on a regular basis, and we know it’s frustrating. As students we do understand as well, so we just wanted to come up with a solution that makes everyone happy, and I think this is a really big idea.”

Hunger Jacks still encourages students who do not have outstanding tickets to participate by bringing donations at any time and offers opportunities to work with their program.

“You can still donate food, and we’re always looking for people to help us put the food up,” said Tamia Garrett, Hunger Jacks treasurer. “We’re expecting a big donation from all of this, so there’s only so many Hunger Jacks that can put away all that food, because sometimes it takes hours. So, it would be helpful if people want to help, that they can come and help us.”

Students interested in volunteering with Hunger Jacks can find more ways to help by emailing hungerjacks@sfasu.edu.

Meredith Janning has worked on The Pine Log since her second semester at Stephen F. Austin. During her time at The Pine Log, Meredith has held the positions of staff writer and news editor.

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