Salem parking ticket scofflaws can earn partial amnesty by donating canned goods to a local food pantry.
Beginning today and stretching to Christmas Eve, a program known to city employees as "peas for fees" allows people who have late parking tickets to donate canned goods in order to wipe out their late fees.
Donated canned goods go to St. Joseph's Food Pantry.
"The food pantry, our residents, everybody loves it," said Bonnie Celi, Salem's City Collector. "It's great this time of year."
The program, which is in its third year, gives people with late parking tickets the option of coming to Celi's office with canned goods rather than money for the late fees.
People must still pay the original ticket fine, which goes to the Registry of Motor Vehicles. However, they can save $10 for the late fee and $20 for the city fee.
Those participating are asked for two canned good donations for each late fee they incurred, but the city doesn't set a limit on food.
"There are people who will come in with a whole case of food instead of a couple" of cans, Celi said. "People seem to feel good about donating food."
Although neither of the past two drives took place in December, they both collected large amounts of food for the food pantry.
"The first year we filled up a whole van," Celi said.
According to Ray Comeau, a volunteer for the food pantry, the program brought in about 1,000 pounds of food last year.
Although "peas for fees" is a catchy name, Celi hopes that people do not take the program's title too literally.
"We really do want more than just peas," Celi said.
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