New York State Senator Simcha Felder called on Mayor de Blasio to adopt an innovative “Food for Fines” program in NYC allowing New Yorkers to receive a reduction of their parking ticket fines for donated canned goods.
“Our food banks are in dire need of donations and this innovative program would be a great help. I believe that the people of the great City of New York would embrace this opportunity. Our food pantries and soup kitchens would increase their supply and New Yorkers would feel good paying their parking tickets. The ultimate benefit would be the recurring positive effect; Creating a habit of food donation by New Yorkers who have not donated before,” said Senator Felder.
Recently reported statistics from “Food Bank for NYC” are heartbreaking. Nearly 80% of food pantries and soup kitchens across NYC have seen elevated traffic, with more first-time visitors, senior citizens and families with children than ever. More than half (54%) of soup kitchens and pantries reported running out of food and 29% reported turning people away because of lack of food.
“It is unconscionable for any New Yorker in need to return home empty-handed from a food bank. Cities across the Nation have turned to creative ‘Food for Fines’ initiatives with good results. NYC can certainly do it bigger and better,” commented the Senator.
Masbia currently serves over 2 million meals a year through their soup kitchens and food banks located across the city. Said, Executive Director, Alex Rappaport, “This is a beautiful idea. The concept of absolving a wrongdoing through charity is a timeless Jewish tradition, and food donation is a very worthy cause. When we feed the hungry, we make an immediate impact that relieves human suffering by providing people with a most basic need.”
Cities that have instituted this kind of program include Lexington, KY; Tallahassee, FL; Tampa, FL; and Albany, NY. Their results indicate that people’s motivation to pay their debts increases when receiving a favorable deal. For example, the City of Chicago periodically runs an amnesty program for late fees on parking tickets that brings in 7 – 10 million dollars in the short time that it runs.
“People are more likely to act on a feel good measure than a punitive one. Many hardworking, law-abiding New Yorkers with parking ticket arrears want to clear them up. A “Food for Fines” program has the potential to raise both revenue and food supplies. I have asked the Mayor and Commissioner of Finance to implement a “Food for Fines” program immediately,” concluded Senator Felder.