Pilot Light Awarded a 2023 USDA Farm to School Grant!

Pilot Light Receives a USDA Farm to School Grant to Expand the Food Education Fellowship! 

July 24, 2023 – Pilot Light is thrilled to announce that we have been recognized as a 2023 Farm to School grantee! A USDA-funded program, Farm to School awards grants and provides resources to organizations that offer food and nutrition education programs that promote local food and agriculture in schools across the country. Read their full press release here. 

Pilot Light’s Farm to School award will support the expansion of our Food Education Fellowship, including the introduction of our Fellowship Alumni Network and the continued expansion of our online Food Education Center.

The Fellowship Alumni Network (FAN) was introduced earlier this year and now comprises over 70 educators nationwide. FAN members are are committed to utilizing Food Education in their classrooms beyond their year in the Fellowship. The support of the USDA – totaling $199,245 over two years – will help us continue to invest in these educators as the leaders of the rapidly growing Food Education movement. Additionally, we are excited to be able to deepen the impact of the Fellowship in Chicago and expand significantly in New York City and Onondaga County in New York State, including the Onondaga Nation.

“Each year, Farm to School grants help fund projects that will increase the amount of local foods served through child nutrition programs and help educate children about where their food comes from,” said USDA Food and Nutrition Service Midwest Regional Administrator Dr. Vista Suarez Fletcher. “Farm to School activities bring education alive through experiential learning opportunities, such as growing plants in the classroom or school gardens, tasting new specialty crops, or visiting local farms. Pilot Light serves as a great example and model of how Farm to School activities help bring hands-on food and agriculture experiences to students, setting them up for life-long healthy relationships with food.” 

The Farm to School grant will also help Pilot Light educators create long-lasting community partnerships with local organizations, businesses, farmers, restaurants, and more. The ability to help foster these relationships is essential not only to the growth of Pilot Light’s impact but also to our continued commitment to our mission, vision, and core values

Food Education Fellowship Director Caitlin Arens is exhilarated by the positive impact the Farm to School award will bring to the Fellowship’s community partnerships: “So much of what makes Pilot Light and Food Education relevant is the understanding that Food Connects Us – not just to each other, but to the soil, plants, animals, the ancestral stewards of the land that we are merely guests on, and to the current and future leaders of the food system. We are grateful and humbled to work alongside community organizations already doing essential food justice work in their communities, and thrilled to help showcase the relevance of their work to students and educators alike.”  

Pilot Light is also honored to be recognized alongside our partners at SOFSA in Syracuse and our teaching partner and The Neighborhood School in New York City, as well as several other organizations in Chicago, New York, and beyond that we have worked with in the past. Find the full list of Farm to School grantees here.

“Now entering its fifth year, The Food Education Fellowship has empowered 70 passionate and talented educators with the knowledge and tools to engage thousands of students through Food Education,” says Alex DeSorbo-Quinn, Pilot Light’s Executive Director, “We are grateful for this investment from the USDA Farm to School program, which will expand the Fellowship’s reach and impact in Chicago and New York State by connecting classroom learning to community-base organizations and local food. Together, we are equipping our next generation with the knowledge and skills to make informed choices and to advocate for a more equitable and sustainable food system.”

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