Pilot Light Awarded U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm to School Grant to Expand Healthy High School Lunch Program

Pilot Light is excited to announce that we are a recipient of a 2018 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Farm to School Implementation Grant, which supports programs bringing local foods into schools. Pilot Light was awarded $60,055, which will be used to expand our food education and experience program from Pritzker College Prep to three additional Noble Charter High Schools.

 “The USDA is committed to helping our children build bright futures with good nutrition,” said Brandon Lipps, acting deputy under secretary for food, nutrition and consumer services for the USDA. “These grants expose students to the local foods and the importance of agriculture, while supporting American farmers in both urban and rural economies.”

One of 73 recipients nationwide, Pilot Light will use the Implementation Grant to expand the teaching and lunchtime food experiences program implemented at Pritzker College Prep in the 2017-2018 school year. The program combines Pilot Light classroom lessons with healthy and locally sourced in-school lunches provided by Chartwells K12. In the program’s’ initial year, Pilot Light and Chartwells K12 were successful in engaging students and achieved an impressive 90% elective student lunchtime participation. Expanding the program will enable Pilot Light to bring food education and experiences to an additional 550 ninth and tenth grade students.

“Partnering with Pilot Light allows us to expand our food and nutrition education programs to help teach students about new foods and where they came from,” said Paul Kendall, regional director of operations for Chartwells K12. “Congratulations to Pilot Light on receiving a USDA Farm to School Grant.  It’s a testament to their success and we look forward to working with them to bring their innovative program to more students in the Noble Network of Charter Schools.”

Along with the expansion of the programs, Pilot Light will engage 12 new teachers in the Pilot Light Food Education Summit, which includes 24 hours of professional development with Pilot Light for each teacher-participant. Teachers receive curriculum and ongoing school-based support and coaching throughout the year. In turn, teachers provide 30 hours of classroom-based Pilot Light lessons to students and lead a food advocacy experience throughout the school year.

“We are thrilled to have Pilot Light expand their programming within the Noble Network of Charter Schools,” said Monica Bromber, director of dining services at the Noble Network of Charter Schools. “This expansion provides Noble students, across the network, with access to food education, unique culinary experiences and a deeper appreciation for living a healthy lifestyle.”

Pilot Light’s overall program effectiveness will be evaluated with assistance from Pilot Light’s partners at the University of Chicago Medicine, and a research team led by Deborah Burnet MD, Chief of General Internal Medicine.

Learn more about the USDA Farm to School Grant here and read the USDA press release here


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