FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- With just two weeks left in Fort Campbell's Feds Feed Families Food Drive organizer Loreta Guzman, Army Community Service Financial Readiness financial adviser, is amazed by the response of the on post community.

"Not really knowing how they did last year, or the years previously, I was like 'you know what? 1,000 pounds, let's go for 1,000 [pounds],'" Guzman said.

Tuesday morning, she delivered 566 pounds of donated food to Loaves and Fishes. The delivery bumped the total food donated from Fort Campbell to 1,082 pounds, as Guzman delivered 516 pounds to Manna Cafe earlier in the collection. Loaves and Fishes and Manna Cafe are the local food banks involved in this year's program.

"I'm really grateful for the Fort Campbell community in general and all the people that work here," Guzman said. "I think we could still do a little bit better."

Guzman is already planning ways to increase donations for next year if she is in charge of the drive again.

"We added kind of late in the campaign the virtual donations," she said.

Virtual donations allow people to donate without actually handling any food themselves.

Donors can go online to any grocery store that allows for ordering and delivery and have food sent directly to the designated food banks. They can then report the weight of what they sent to Guzman to be included in the overall total of Fort Campbell's donations.

"Everybody's on the computer, everybody's doing online shopping anyway, so I thought, 'That would be great,'" Guzman said.

She got the idea from the Department of Agriculture's Feds Feed Families website, which suggests several companies that donors can use.

Guzman said she has not had the response she was hoping from the units, but acknowledged they each have their own missions that take precedence.

"We did have [1st Lt. Robert Kalsu Replacement Company (20th Replacement)] donate quite a bit of food," she said.

She said the civilian organization that has donated the most food so far is the Regional Network Enterprise Center.

Other than the two large donors, Guzman is not tracking the donations from each organization individually.

"I think Fort Campbell as a whole is one team," Guzman said.

The only issues she is run into so far is donations of expired food.

"I've thrown out over 100 pounds of food and a lot of it was expired in 2010," Guzman said. "I understand [donating] is a way for people to just kind of empty their pantries, but [expired food is] going to be thrown away."

She said items within a month of the expiration date may still be usable, but asked that donors check the dates before bringing in the food. Guzman also emphasized that the donations cannot be opened.

"I'm hoping to get more because the need is great," Guzman said. "I talked to Manna Cafe in July and they were extremely grateful that Fort Campbell as a whole was stepping up."

Mary Fisher, Rice team volunteer supervisor at Loaves and Fishes, said the Defense Commissary Agency regularly donates leftover produce to the soup kitchen so the donations they really need are cleaning supplies.

Despite not being an actual restaurant, the kitchen is held to the same standards as other food services in Tennessee. That means volunteers must clean and sterilize everything and keep the kitchen and dining room spotless despite having only two paid employees -- a dishwasher and a bookkeeper.

"We need cleaning supplies," Fisher said. "Those [supplies] some of us have to buy out of our pockets and donate."

She said they are running low on detergent and bleach. They have had clients steal toilet paper in the past as well.

"They have a need I guess," Fisher said.

The soup kitchen, which has been around for about 30 years, feeds between 150 and 200 people, Monday through Saturday. Volunteers arrive at 8 a.m. to prepare the day's hot meal and begin serving food at 10:30 a.m. The dining room closes at noon and the workers spend the next hour cleaning and prepping for the next day's team.

"Some of the people are homeless, but not all of them," Fisher said. "Some are just down on their luck and can't make it from week to week or month to month, so they come here for a hot meal."

Fisher said around the end of each month, when people struggle to make ends meet the number of people served every day can jump to almost 300 a day.

Unlike Manna Cafe, the only food that can be taken out of the Loaves and Fishes dining hall is the produce such as apples and bananas. Everything else must be eaten on-site, but people are invited to come back to fill up their plates as many times as they want while they are there.

"We cook a hot meal every day," Fisher said. "We do not ask for any ID. They come in, they eat three, four, five times and then they leave."

Fisher said most of the food coming from Fort Campbell is canned goods. Tuesday they were serving mixed beans and turkey, salad and pizza, all of which came from around the community.

"It's been good," Guzman said. "Given the time frame that we had to just really put everything together, I'm just really grateful that Fort Campbell stepped up so quickly and over 1,000 pounds of food is being distributed as we speak."

The Feds Feed Families Food Drive ends Aug. 28, but Guzman said anyone who wants to donate after that date can drop the food off at the ACS Financial Readiness Center, 5662 Screaming Eagle Blvd., and they will deliver the donations to one of the designated food banks.


HELPING hands

The Fort Campbell community can donate virtually by ordering groceries online and having food sent directly to the food bank:

Manna Cafe Ministries

Attn: Feds Feed Families -- Fort Campbell

1960-J Madison St. #312

Clarksville, TN 37040

Loaves and Fishes

Attn: Feds Feed Families -- Fort Campbell

215 Foster St.

Clarksville, TN 37040