Sarah Wharton brings cooking classes to Pond Gap

Susan EspirituOur Town Youth, West Knoxville

Dr. Bob Kronick and Elisa Luna, real heroes of mine, started the vision of The Community Full-Service Schools Program many years ago at Inskip Elementary, but Pond Gap Elementary wound up the beneficiary of their vision to be the first actual completely funded program through the University of Tennessee and Randy Boyd’s generosity.

Now, 14 years later, the program is called University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) and is continuing to thrive and provide for students and their families as an initiative to address unmet social, economic and academic needs of students and community members.

Community partners work together with staff to provide programming for the students and families to meet the goals of the program. Sarah Wharton is one example of a community partner who is providing programing that is impacting the students at Pond Gap. In 2017, Wharton started cooking courses, Little Chefs, Big Change, out of her own passion for healthy eating and a healthy planet.

“We are teaching kids how to cook healthy food and a variety of veggie-fueled recipes that employ different cooking tools and different methods,” Wharton said. “Kids are building confidence and independence while expanding their taste, preference and familiarity with healthy food.”

Little Chefs, Big Change has accumulated blenders, food processors, electric griddles, and more through grants to teach the students about technique and safety so they can translate these skills when cooking at their homes and in their futures. Students follow recipes with an emphasis on “healthy foods that are so often under-consumed, like whole grains, vegetables and legumes,” she said. Little Chefs, Big Change became an incorporated non-profit in November 2022. To follow along with their journey, visit their social media on Facebook and Instagram.

Kaleigh Cortez contributed to this story

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