UT Austin Turns Parking Tickets Into Meals With November Program
By Ronan Benford
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – University of Texas students, staff, and faculty can pay off parking tickets collected on campus with food donations through Nov. 20.
The Food for Fines program will waive citations issued on UT’s campus between Aug. 16 and Oct. 31 in exchange for a donation of bags of rice or cans of beans at any of the seven staffed parking garages on campus. UT’s Parking and Transportation Services (UT PTS) sponsored the program to stock the UT Outpost’s food pantry for students in need.
Blanca Gamez, the Associate Director of Transportation at UT said the program collected close to 650 cans of soup last year and cleared more than $5,000 worth of citations. She said this year is off to a great start.
“We haven’t been running a full week but we’ve already collected close to 100 bags of rice and canned beans. That’s over $550 [worth of citations],” Gamez said.
The Food for Fines program has happened each year since 2018 except 2020 due to COVID lockdowns.
Valeria Martin, the assistant director for basic needs in the Office of the Dean of Students, said the program is an ongoing success.
“We had soup in the pantry pretty much throughout the entire summer, so that shows how successful it was, because that’s a pretty high in-demand item,” Martin said.
Romeela Karr, a UT senior who recently received a parking ticket, believes the program is a net positive even if most people will take part because of less-than-ideal circumstances.
“If the school is going to find a way to help others, and maybe decrease tickets and fines for students, I think that’s a great thing to do,”Karr said.
Eligible garages are:
Conference Center Garage
Health Center Garage
San Antonio Garage