‘Godsend’ 20.6k cans from five public schools

Love Kitchen food supply once again bolstered by FHS SGA leadership

  • Annie Priest, Farragut High School Student Government Association member, helps organize donations at The Love Kitchen under a mural of former executive director Patrick Riggins, who passed away unexpectedly last December. - Michelle Hollenhead

  • Sophie Dotson, left, and Rani Patel, Farragut High School Student Government Association members who are seniors, help bring in donations Monday, Nov. 14, at The Love Kitchen. - Michelle Hollenhead

Despite donations being down somewhat, Farragut High School’s Student Government Association did not disappoint The Love Kitchen this year.

The group delivered the equivalent of 20,600 cans of food Monday, Nov. 14, to the Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. location in East Knoxville, capping off a donation season that, this year, not only included all four Farragut public schools, but also for the first time included Northshore Elementary.

“I was just blown away,” said Martin Riggins, Love Kitchen’s new executive director, who took over leadership of the organization following the unexpected death of his brother, former executive director Patrick Riggins, in December 2021. “Every single table was completely covered.”

While Martin had helped out here and there when his brother was in charge, “I had never seen the Farragut SGA donations be delivered before,” he said.

Love Kitchen Board president Ernie Roberts, who helped unload more than a dozen vehicles filled with donations, described it as “a Godsend.

“It really is a blessing what they do for us.”

Even with fewer donations — last year the FHS SGA gave an equivalent of 33,000 cans — SGA president Kate Ford said she was “pleased” with how things went.

“We had just had two back-to-back fundraisers, and with the economy being down, we knew it might not be what it had been in the past, but we were very thankful for what we were able to raise,” she said.

“We had all four (Farragut) schools this year, and Northshore Elementary for the first time, and they went above and beyond, giving about 6,000 cans alone.”

Ford said the group had 18 drivers, not counting parents, to help deliver the donations, which filled all available tables to near overflowing.

“We had volunteers come in at 6:45 a.m. the next morning to help get the tables cleared off so we could prepare meals for Tuesday,” Martin said. “It took all of us until 9 a.m. just to get everything organized and moved.”

He said it was hard to determine how far those donations will go, but estimated it would feed homebound Love Kitchen recipients “for several months.”

FHS social studies teacher Elizabeth Blankenship, who sponsors SGA along with fellow teachers Angela Breeding and Shasta Todd, said the unique partnership between FHS SGA and The Love Kitchen began around 2013.

“It is very cool, but it is all on the kids,” Blankenship said. “Literally, I turn them loose and they make it happen. It is truly a student-driven organization.

“If you just set them free, they will do amazing things and do it with a smile,” she added.

Blankenship also singled out Ford for her organizational skills. “Kate is phenomenal — I truly don’t have to do anything. She keeps me up to date,” she said.