Photo via Enoch Pratt Free Library/Facebook

The Enoch Pratt Free Library’s annual Food for Fines donation drive quietly disappeared this past summer, when the library system progressively opted to eliminate overdue borrowing charges altogether. But from the ashes of that noble campaign comes Food for Friends, which is essentially the same deal to help address that crucial cause of widespread hunger.

Through the end of this month, the library system and the Maryland Food Bank are collecting canned food at all Enoch Pratt branches to feed hungry residents across the state.

There’s still a transactional option: Each can or box of food—unopened, and no glass allowed—can eliminate a dollar from an individual’s account for charges for lost or stolen borrowed materials or replacement library cards. A patron can get up to $50 waived.

Maryland Food Bank president and CEO Carmen Del Guercio said in a statement that the Maryland Food Bank has been collecting food to feed the hungry for four decades now. This campaign in particular is timely, she noted.

“Campaigns like Food For Friends are instrumental to the work we do, not only because it’s an easy way for people to donate nutritious food, but because they bring attention to the fact that hunger is a year-round issue, one that doesn’t end once the holidays are over.”

This will mark the fourth year the nonprofit and library system have partnered. Last year’s campaign collected 7,411 pounds of food, and past ones have collected similar or higher totals, feeding thousands of Marylanders.

The Maryland Food Bank’s website notes that despite being among the wealthiest states in the country, Maryland has more than 665,000 food-insecure individuals, or around one in every nine people living here. Rates of food insecurity are highest here in Baltimore City and in Somerset and Dorchester counties on the Eastern Shore, according to this map.

The most in-demand items, Enoch Pratt says, include canned proteins (think fish, beans, peanut butter), veggies with no salt added, fruits and juices, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals, soups and dairy. Click here for more info on what to donate, and here to find your closest library branch.

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...