Pennies and dimes are hard to find in many parts of America after pandemic lockdowns disrupted their flow and kept households from exchanging their coin jars for dollar bills.
The United States Mint wants you to know that you can be part of the solution.
“We ask that the American public start spending their coins,” the Mint, which is part of the Treasury, implored in a release on Thursday. “The coin supply problem can be solved with each of us doing our part.”
Other options include depositing coins or exchanging them for cash.
The coin shortage has forced regional Federal Reserve banks, which distributes coins, to institute a rationing system. On June 30, the Fed established a coin task force to deal with the unfolding crisis, complete with “industry leaders in the coin supply chain.”
The shortage has become a problem for many small businesses across America and has been the topic of local news coverage and of discussion on a corner of Reddit devoted to prepping strategies.
Even big retailers are feeling the penny pinch — Walmart, CVS, Kroger and other chains have begun asking customers to pay with plastic when possible or to use exact change.
While digital payments have become prevalent, coins have remained crucial to some parts of the economy: parking meters, vending machines, amusement parks and even campground showers. For the millions of households without bank accounts, cash is an essential part of daily life.
“For millions of Americans, cash is the only form of payment and cash transactions rely on coins to make change,” the Mint said.
“As important as it is to get more coins circulating, safety is paramount,” it added. “Please be sure to follow all safety and health guidelines.”