UT Austin Turns Parking Tickets Into Meals With November Program
Nov 09, 2023

UT Austin Turns Parking Tickets Into Meals With November Program

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 UT Outpost accepted donations for the university’s student food pantry in Austin, Texas, on Nov. 8, 2023. Students have until Nov. 20 to pay off parking fines up to $75 with cans of beans and rice instead of cash. (Ronan Benford/Reporting Texas TV)

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.

Participants can only pay off one citation with donations, and even people without any fines can make donations to the UT Outpost. More details are available at the Food for Fines website.

Eligible garages are:

Brazos Garage
Conference Center Garage
Health Center Garage
Manor Garage
San Antonio Garage
Speedway Garage
Trinity Garage