Pilot Light held its inaugural Food Education Summit on October 10th and 11th, 2017 at the University of Chicago to address a growing concern about the need for food education in our country’s schools.

Co-chaired by Pilot Light Founding Board Members Matthias Merges and Bogdana Chkoumbova, the Summit convened 30 national experts in fields related to food, education and child development gathered to define the role of this new field of education and its prioritization in grades K­–12.  The Experts also weighed in on Pilot Light’s Food Education Standards and the knowledge, attitudes, and skills children of all ages need to master its nine domains of Food Education.

These domains include:

  1. Student can describe how food connects us to each other.
  2. Student can identify external and internal influences on food and nutrition behavior.
  3. Student can describe food sources and origins.
  4. Student can discuss the impact of food on their health.
  5. Student can describe the relationship between food and the environment.
  6. Student can access, analyze and evaluate information to help them make positive and informed food choices.
  7. Student can demonstrate the use of interpersonal communication skills to influence the foods available to them and their food choices.
  8. Student will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors in relation to food.
  9. Student can create a plan to advocate for food and nutrition changes that impact personal, family and community health.

Over the coming months, Pilot Light will work with a team of K–12 educators and the experts to wordsmith and refine the competencies within each Standard.  Pilot Light’s final Food Education Standards will be released to schools and like-minded organizations in Spring 2018.

The Summit was hosted in partnership with the University of Chicago’s Community Programs Accelerator.  Pilot Light is one of the nonprofit organizations supported by the Accelerator in 2017 and was selected for its commitment to serving mid-South Side Chicago communities. Derek Douglas, the Vice President for Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago, spoke at the Summit about the Accelerator’s partnership with Pilot Light and its commitment to expanding the work of the Summit to children who need it.

Pilot Light thanks the expert participants who joined us at the Summit:

Erin Meyer Executive Director of the Spence Farm Foundation
Deborah Burnet, MD Internal Medicine, University of Chicago
Jim Slama Executive Director, Family Farmed
Mike Quinn Behavioral Psychologist
Shari Berland Education, Pilot Light Board Member
Chandra Garcia 3rd Grade Teacher in CPS, Pilot Light Board
Bill Hook Principal, Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences
Marshall Shafkowitz Chef and Executive Director, Washburne Culinary Institute
Tynisha Jointer Social and Emotional Learning at Chicago Public Schools
JoAnn Pesos Director of Nutrition, Chicago Department of Public Health
Bogdana Chkoumbova Network Chief, CPS & Pilot Light Board Member
Matthias Merges Chef, Pilot Light Board Member
Jeanne Nolan Founder, Organic Gardener
Whitney Bateson Dietician, Chartwells K12
Jennifer Wildes Director of Eating Disorder program, professor, University of Chicago
Alan Shannon Public Affairs Director-Midwest, USDA
Josh Perkins Executive Chef, Chartwells K12
David Lohrmann PhD Professor of Applied Health Sciences, University of Indiana
Pam Koch EdD RD Executive Director, Professor, Tisch Institute for Food and Nutrition Columbia University
John Allegrante PhD Professor of Health Education, Columbia University
Katie Wilson PhD Former Deputy Under Secretary for Child Nutrition, USDA
Lindsey Shifley Parent Advocate



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