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If you get a parking fine in Stillwater, you can pay it off by donating food

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If you're landed with a parking ticket in Stillwater next month, your bank balance won't necessarily take a hit – but your pantry might.

A new initiative running in the city throughout March will give drivers the chance to pay off their parking ticket by donating food to those in need, the Stillwater Gazette reports.

Rather than paying a $15 fine, people can instead take 10 non-perishable food items to Stillwater City Hall for donation to food shelf and emergency support organization Valley Outreach.

Valley Outreach director Tracy Maki told FOX 9 the group was inspired after a "Food for Fines" initiative was launched in Kentucky last year, and the program will coincide with the Minnesota Foodshare March Campaign.

"I think we're the first city in the state to do this," she told the Pioneer Press. "It's creative, forward-thinking and kind of fun."

Anyone who incurs a parking fine in March will have the slate wiped clean if they donate 10 undamaged, unopened and unexpired food items within the 10 day grace period for paying the fine, otherwise they'll have to hand over $15.

Stillwater's Downtown Parking Commission hopes the move will heal the "bruise" it caused recently by announcing it intended to charge for parking in downtown areas to make up for a $25,000 deficit in its budget.

That decision has since been reversed, the Stillwater Gazette notes, with the shortfall instead being made up by an increase in permit fees and parking fines.

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