Frequent library users have a penchant for racking up fines for overdue books. Luckily for Baltimore City residents, there’s a way to pay those down while feeding the needy after the holidays.

This year will mark the fourth straight year in which Enoch Pratt Library has teamed up with the Maryland Food Bank for its “Food for Fines” program. The system is simple: Anyone who owes money to the library for holding onto overdue books can knock a dollar off their debt by donating a canned food item.

If you’re a heinous offender who owes hundreds or even thousands of dollars to the library system, there’s no need to worry. You can donate as many cans as you want. As the rules of common decency state, all donations just need to be unopened and not expired.

Last year’s Food for Fines collaboration was an enormous success for both organizations. The library says it cleared $13,000 in library debts while collecting more than 8,800 meals for Maryland’s families.

This year’s program runs from Jan. 3-31, 2017. All 23 Enoch Pratt branches in the city are participating. Click here to find yours.

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...