Council approves food donations instead of paying fines

We don’t often throw around words like “innovation” when we’re talking about government departments.

But over in Las Vegas, the city council is doing something so innovative and heart-warming, it should be replicated by councils far and wide.

This week, the Las Vegas City Council announced that anyone who gets a parking ticket over the next month is allowed to pay off the fine with a food donation instead of cash.


Food donated must be non-perishable and of equal or greater value to the ticket fine – so if you’ve copped a $60 fine, then you need to donate $60 worth of groceries.

All the food will be sent to Helping Hands of Vegas Valley, a non-profit charity that delivers assistance to low-income and disabled senior citizens.

What a brilliant way to offer people an opportunity to make a massive impact. If you shop smart and cruise the sales, you could buy enough half-price groceries to donate double the value in food items.

It’s only a temporary program, applying to parking citations issued between October 16 and November 16, with donations accepted up until mid-December. The timing is no coincidence; the council is running the initiative now to collect food for the upcoming holiday season.

This is such a fantastic idea, because we all know that awful feeling of getting a fine. Whether it’s for over-staying your parking or accidentally blowing through a stop sign, the inner rage and frustration you feel when you have to hand over your hard-earned money for what feels like no good reason is soul-destroying.

It’s like you’re flushing money down the toilet – which is why I love this initiative so much.

I wonder if this is something our Mayor Tom Tate could get behind?!

Regardless, if you’re inspired by this story, consider donating to Rosies – Friends on the Street, a local outreach service that provides a hot meal and a friendly ear to those living homeless on the Gold Coast. They are always in need of non-perishable food donations and in the lead up to Christmas, the need grows even bigger. If you can add an extra few tins of tuna, some muesli bars or deodorant to your next grocery shop, contact Rosies today.