Click the link below to read the full report and see the incredible impact of Pilot Light’s Food Education programs in classrooms across the country.
Since 2010, Pilot Light has been impacting students, teachers, and families in the city of Chicago and nationwide:
Over the past 13 years, we’ve reached…
25,000+ students have engaged in Pilot Light food education lessons
275+ teachers have received Pilot Light professional development and training
120+ food advocacy projects completed impacting over 2,500 community members
25 school districts across the country
200+ Pilot Light Food Education lessons written by teachers for teachers through professional development
…and we’re not done growing!
Through Pilot Light, students are learning through food in Reading, Writing, Math, Science, and beyond:
“My favorite part of the school year has been cooking and trying different foods. It has been so fun and is something we did together as a class like a big family.”
– 3rd grade Food Education Fellowship Student, 2023
“Over the course of this entire year…my students have learned that they do, in fact, have some autonomy when it comes to food, even at the age of 9. At the beginning of the year, most of them didn’t think too much about food. They just ate what tasted good to them whenever possible. Now, they are thinking far more critically about food. They have experienced a number of foods for the first time this year, and I’ve heard from parents that their children are more motivated to help with cooking at home.”
– 2022-23 Pilot Light Fellow Ann K.
“I think Food Education is very important. It teaches teens to eat healthy and make good choices. It made me realize I can grow my own food and have fun doing it too!”
– 2022-23 High School Pilot Light Student
Food Education happens both inside and outside of the classroom! Our resources are made to be adaptable for all teachers PreK-12 and for both in-person and virtual learning experiences…
45+ Family Meal Videos and Lesson Plans (grounded in Common Core curriculum) released in 2020 on The Food Education Center with a growing library of 56 Pilot Light Anywhere PreK-12 literacy-based eLearning lessons built around our Food Education Standards and Common Core English Language Arts Standards.
In response to COVID-19, Pilot Light pivoted to online professional development for teachers to continue to bring Food Education in a safe, supportive environment. Since then, we have continued our dedication to the online professional development structure so we can continue to connect with educators across the country.
Read a Case Study On Our Impact With The Urban School Food Alliance
Through Pilot Light, food connects us to each other and provides teachers and students with a developmentally appropriate structure to facilitate self and social awareness:
“Kids are familiar with food, they’re interested in it, they love it. So when they bring their stories, they bring their voices, they bring their identities. And [Pilot Light] lessons have an amazing ability to help us see our students as whole people rather than something we sort of just fill with facts. It becomes very collaborative. Kids are very interested. And I think Pilot Light lessons…become what education should be. That’s something that’s shared between a teacher and a student and as people with stories.”
– 2019-20 Fellow, Disney II High School
Pilot Light helps improve student engagement with Food Education lessons and during regular academic instruction:
“I know my students were engaged when they would asked ahead of time the lessons of the week. The students’ smiles and conversations became a permanent fixture throughout the year. The students actively held conversations with students, teachers, family and friends inside and outside of our class about their Pilot Light experiences. Last, this class was chosen as the school’s favorite class as students enrolled in high numbers for next school term.”
– 2021-22 Pilot Light Fellow Nikita L.
Pilot Light helps promote student confidence and offers a pathway of connection across academic subjects and real-world knowledge:
“One of my goals for this program was to show my students other ways to apply our ELA/Math skills. I think this program did a great job at helping students use food to feel confident and demonstrate academic skills. During a typical reading lesson I know many of my students feel shy and hesitant to participate. I was thrilled during the program the increase in engagement in discussion and engagement in completing the academic tasks. My students I felt are now much more conscious of the food they are eating and their food choices. The program did a great job of helping students make connections between content and their own life.”
– 2023 Classroom to Cafeteria Educator
After participation in the Pilot Light Food Education Fellowship, teachers felt significantly more:
- confident in implementing Food Education lessons in my classroom on a weekly basis.
- confident that they could lead professional development related to Food Education with other teachers in their school.
- aware of the background knowledge of their school’s community and the food issues their students face.
- aware of food issues in their community that affect their students and their families’ food behaviors.
Our Food Education professional development programs invest in teacher leadership and creativity. At Pilot Light, we are deeply committed to investing in teachers as the leaders of the Food Education movement in their schools and communities:
“The Pilot Light Fellowship has really jumpstarted me because I’m not sure that I would have sought out some of the other opportunities that have come my way this year […] if it hadn’t been for Pilot Light encouraging me to do so.”
– 2021-22 Pilot Light Fellow Mary S.
“Pilot Light has helped me evolve as an instructor and has further challenged me as a teacher. Pilot Light is a wonderful opportunity for schools and scholars alike!”
– 2019-20 Food Education Fellow
“This program far exceeded my expectations. To see my students very excited to learn more, asking me for more time with the lessons, and talking about food with new food vocabulary has been a teacher’s dream for sure.”
– 2023 Classroom to Cafeteria Educator
Learn more about our Teacher and School Partners
Students bring their Food Education knowledge and skills into their homes and communites:
“The students have been replicating the recipes at home. Each time the students replicate the recipes, the parents and family are the critics. (But in a positive way.) Some families have shared that students are asking to go with their parent to the Farmers Markets, as well as the grocery store. They are volunteering in preparing the meals.”
– 2022-23 Pilot Light Fellow
“Students have felt proud to kickstart the composting and recycling programs at our school again. They are going home and talking about the importance of recycling to their families, and I recently had some parents ask for more details about how to vermicompost at parent-teacher conferences.”
– 2022-23 Pilot Light Fellow