Sarah Wharton started 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 and preference and familiarity with healthy food.”
Wharton started cooking courses at Pond Gap Elementary in 2017 with the University of Tennessee’s University-Assisted Community Schools program. Little Chefs, Big Change became an incorporated non-profit in November 2022.
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 cook 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.
Wharton hopes to expand to more schools in the next year.
“We focus on communities that historically lack access to fresh and healthy food choices, thereby serving as a counterbalance to existing unjust food systems,” she said.
Wharton and Little Chefs, Big Change do not just want to encourage healthy eating, kitchen safety, and environmentalism for the time the students are in the classroom, but create a lifelong relationship with healthy food and a healthy world.