Pilot Light Progress: what next school year holds in store

By Brenna O’Dea

Summer is right around the corner and we cannot WAIT. We are done with snowflakes and ready for snowcones. Soon enough we will be lounging in our lawn chairs, lathering on the sunscreen, and before we know it, back to school shopping will be at the top of our list. Here at Pilot Light we are already prepping for the 2017-2018 school year and we have some pretty special stuff in store.

Our Community Programs Manager, Kendra Julion, told me all about what we have coming up on the calendar. Get excited. Pilot Light will be partnering with 8 new schools and we will be focusing on new neighborhoods on the south side of Chicago. We are SO EXCITED to be part of the University of Chicago’s Community Programs Accelerator and work together to improve lives and communities. The Accelerator Program helps local nonprofit organizations make lasting impact in select Chicago neighborhoods through civic engagement and programming. We are lucky to be a part of it and hungry (literally) for success.

These 8 new partner schools will bring us 24 amazing teachers who are eager to get your little ones excited about food education. And save the date! We are still accepting applications for these 8 partner schools until April 14th, so click here to nominate YOURS. Now, where was I? One of our favorite focuses for the upcoming school year will be our end-of-the-year celebration. Teachers will give presentations on some highlights from Pilot Light lessons throughout the year. I know, I know, this sounds nearly impossible because there are SO many terrific (and tasty) lessons to choose from. But we just will have to choose our most scrumptious memories to share. Perhaps pasta making with Chef Eric…or bread baking with Chef Greg…or of course those sweet s’mores that our students just can’t get enough of. I guess you will just have to wait and see what the foodie future holds…

And finally, we have another project coming up that we are very, very excited about. It is not quite as delicious as snackin’ on some s’mores (the health-ified version of course!), but it is actually much more important. I’m talking about food justice and advocacy. Each class will choose a different food issue to focus on, and students will study the topic, ultimately presenting a project or event on their learnings. Ms. Garcia’s class at Ray Elementary is already working on a project for the end of this school year. They will be serving soup to immigrants and refugees at an art fair coming up in early June. Funds will go toward Pilot Light and help us keep up programs and events just like this one. Other ideas in store include students interviewing each other about their food habits and histories, and students calculating their own food waste and developing strategies to reduce this waste, specifically focusing on what is left on their lunch trays when they are full.

We cannot wait for what the summer and next school year bring…and we PROMISE that it will be delicious.

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