GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WGFL) — At first glance, it appeared to be a cruel April Fool's joke.
University of Florida President Kent Fuchs released a video on April Fool's Day announcing that unpaid parking tickets would be forgiven. Students were immediately skeptical, and not very amused. By Monday, the university's Transportation and Parking Services announced a one-time opportunity to erase those fines.
"Food for Fines" will provide parking amnesty for a ticket in exchange for five pantry items that will go toward the Field and Fork Food Pantry. Those tickets had to have been issued from April 1st, 2017 to April 1st, 2018.
The university is forgiving anything unpaid in that ticket between that time, which means student Pablo Padillo was able to pay off $175 worth of tickets for $18 worth of pantry items.
“I paid $18 at Publix for tomato sauce and tomato soups," Padillo said.
Analee Rodriguez from UF Parking and Transportation Services said response was immediate.
“We weren’t anticipating the response that we got," Rodriguez said. "It was a lot to take in but it was really great to see that some people were a little angry and some people were really excited. Once we released today that it is actually happening it was really heartwarming to know were actually helping a lot of people.”
The Food for Fines program lasts until Friday.