Feeding minds to clear fines

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 1, 2008

DEMOPOLIS &8212; Got a library fine to pay off? Don&8217;t&8217; have any cash? The solution is right inside your pantry.

During the month of May the Demopolis Public Library will accept food items in exchange for clearing $1 off a patron&8217;s fine as a way to support the Demopolis Food Pantry. According to Librarian Morgan Grimes, the idea came from fellow staff member Kelly Tarpley, children&8217;s librarian.

Tarpley, who lives a block away from the pantry located in the old Temple B&8217;Nai Jeshurun on North Main Avenue, said she sees clients come early each Wednesday morning to receive a much-needed bag of groceries. With gas and food prices sky high, the library staff saw this partnership as both a way to help the pantry and to get more involved in the community.

The partnership comes at a critical time for both organizations.

Some of the pantry&8217;s biggest donors have been Demopolis High School JROTC, local boy scouts, First United Methodist Church and the EMS service at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. But the majority of the food comes from the West Alabama Food Bank in Tuscaloosa, which is a non-profit organization that collects surplus items from supermarkets, restaurants, manufacturers, wholesale businesses and farms.

The Demopolis Food Pantry was founded in the 1980s after a need was seen for a food program for local residents who, for whatever reason, were not eligible for help through existing food distribution programs. Most clients are elderly or disabled, and all must meet USDA income guidelines.

In 2007 the Demopolis Food Pantry served a total of 10,226 clients. Each Wednesday morning from 8 to 9 a.m. they serve 185-200 people. During that hour, local residents who meet guidelines may pick up a bag of groceries.

In addition to the donation of food items, the pantry always needs paper grocery bags.

For more information call the library at 334-289-1595.