‘Peanut Butter for Parking’ smooths over parking tickets, spreads it forward at ODU

NORFOLK, Va. - It's never a good feeling to get slapped with a parking ticket.

"Last week, my sister and I came here for the Elizabeth Warren event, and I got ticketed for 80 bucks," said Norfolk resident Robin Coward.

In a sticky situation, Coward was at the parking office at Old Dominion University on Friday, armed with something a bit nutty to get out of his bind.

"Alright, so you got the peanut butter," said the teller at the counter.

Creamy or crunchy equals cash this week at the university. It's part of a homecoming week program called "Peanut Butter for Parking."

The program, in its second year, aims to spread the gooey goods forward to students in need.

"Considering you are waiving an 80-dollar citation for the cost of 2 to 3 dollars of peanut butter, I think students are very receptive of the program," said Megan Gribble, ODU's transportation planner.

The jars collected then head over to the Ignite Food pantry on campus, getting in the bellies of students suffering from food insecurity.

"A lot of our students have to make decisions to pay for rent, tuition, their books and then try to get a healthy meal," said Amy Joaquim with the Leadership and Student Development office.

Joaquim says 1 in 4 students on campus suffer from food insecurity. Peanut butter is one of the most requested items, but least likely to be donated.

"It has a long shelf life, it goes a long way and it's packed with protein," said Joaquim.

Last year the program collected 300 jars, equivalent to 500 pounds of peanut butter, in turn waiving $10,000 in potential parking ticket revenue.

"I think it's a great opportunity to help others and I'm happy that it's going to a good cause," said student Taylor Ellis. "I would rather give peanut butter than pay money to the parking people."

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