Pilot Light Starts 2023 Off Strong!

Pilot Light is already off to a great start in 2023! This January brought several exciting programming updates, as well as exciting new efforts to strengthen and build our community. 

In 2023, Pilot Light is aiming to strengthen and build our community of educators, chefs, and supporters who are dedicated to our mission of bringing holistic food education to K-12 students. As we continue to work toward an equitable food system for everyone, we want to hear from you, our valued community members, about what you want to see from Pilot Light. Please take just a moment to fill out this brief survey to let us know what you want to see from Pilot Light! 

Pilot Light was thrilled to be featured on NBC’s Chicago Today to promote our message and difference. Founding Chef Paul Kahan joined Pilot Light student alum Diamond Brown to chat about Pilot Light’s impact on student’s lives and classroom experiences. We’re so excited to have Diamond and her former teacher/Fellowship alum Marria Rahim represent our organization alongside one of our founding chefs. Click here to watch!

On January 21, 2023, Pilot Light proudly hosted our premiere Evaluation Summit: For Good Measure.

This one-day event brought together 15 Pilot Light educators from across grade bands and content who are passionate about holistic food education. The goal of the summit was to have these teachers help Pilot Light’s programming team to develop external-facing standardized tools for the Food Education Standards evaluation. We had great conversations about evaluation & overall classroom assessment, including how to ensure that Pilot Light is bringing community needs and student voices into this project. We also discussed what an equity-based approach to evaluation looks like, inspired by the fantastic guidance of our keynote speaker Steve Gates of Chicago Beyond.

The development of sustainable evaluation tools will be an ongoing process, and the For Good Measure summit inspired our programming team and teachers to stir up standards assessment in new, thought-provoking ways. We are excited to continue collaborating with our network of teachers and to apply all we learned during the summit to Pilot Light’s evaluation work!

The For Good Measure Evaluation Summit was generously supported by our sponsors, partners, and hosts: Ray Elementary, Here Here Market, Hyatt Hyde Park, Dr. Jason Gordon, and The Spice House. The event was documented through photographs by Shabari Bailey (@elevinayem on Instagram) and by our hardworking programming team. 


In other programming news, Pilot Light was excited to launch our pilot program of the new SnackTime Explorers Educational Toolkit this month (read more about SnackTime Explorers here!) in Chicago Public Schools. 

January also brought exciting new changes to our Associate Board, a group of professionals dedicated to promoting, raising awareness, and fundraising for Pilot Light’s food education programming. The Associate Board held elections and inducted its members into their new roles. We’re so excited to extend our congratulations to the 2023 Associate Board and can’t wait to work alongside them to further Pilot Light’s mission and bring exciting community-building events to our Chicagoland network of supporters.



In partnership news, we were so excited to announce Rabobank’s latest contribution to Pilot Light in the form of a brand-new mobile kitchen cart designed to help our Food Education Fellows bring cooking into their classrooms with newfound ease and ability. 

Additionally, Pilot Light Executive Director Alex DeSorbo-Quinn, Food Education Fellowship Director Caitlin Arens, and Founding Chef Paul Kahan were thrilled to represent Pilot Light at a luncheon hosted by The Evolved Network to strengthen community building amongst our fellow nonprofit organizations in Chicago dedicated to food justice & education. We encourage you to learn more about The Evolved Network & their approach to cooking, education, and mental health on their website. 

Finally, Pilot Light staff and the Board of Directors were excited for the opportunity to meet this month for an all-day strategy retreat graciously hosted by The Emily Hotel. This meeting helped define the mission and vision for the future of Pilot Light, and helped find points of connection amongst our team. We can’t wait to continue working together to support educators & students who engage with Pilot Light’s programming for years to come. 

As always, the Pilot Light Team wishes to thank you for supporting our organization and supporting our vision for an equitable food systems future. We are able to work alongside educators and students engaging with food because of your continued support. We’re so grateful to be in community with our network of supporters and are excited to grow our network even further in 2023. Please take just a few brief moments to complete our interest survey, and if you wish to contribute financially to our organization, please follow the donation instructions here

Thank you again for supporting Pilot Light. Here’s to another year of sharing connections, building understanding, and collaborating around the table together. 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Follow Us

Donate to Pilot Light