Since 2010, Pilot Light has been impacting students, teachers, and families in the city of Chicago and now nationwide:

In the past ten years:

20,000+ students have engaged in Pilot Light food education lessons

250+ teachers have received Pilot Light professional development and training

120+ food advocacy projects completed impacting over 2,500 community members

2,900 Pilot Light food education lessons downloaded from our Food Education Center

200+ Pilot Light food education lessons written by teachers for teachers through professional development

Read a Case Study On Our Impact With The Urban School Food Alliance



Through Pilot Light, students are learning through food in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science

Every one of my third graders was at the 90th percentile in informational text and vocabulary last year [for the NWEA exam]. The only thing I do in informational text is Pilot Light. Whether it’s science or social studies, all of their reading for Pilot Light is informational text and nonfiction. So not only are they being more empathetic [as a result of the program], but because they’re so into what we’re doing with Pilot Light and the things that we’re reading about with Pilot Light, their test scores last year went through the roof! That’s the only change I’ve made to how I teach.”
– 3rd grade teacher, Ray Elementary

“In order for students to put more description into their writing, they need to be inspired by an event that inspires description, like Pilot Light. Students had more to work with, given the multi-sensory experience of the lesson. Students tried harder to capture their experiences—reaching harder for language to express themselves. The creative lesson inspired more creative responses.”
– 8th grade teacher, Dewey School of Excellence


Students continue learning about food education through Pilot Light even when learning is remote or at home.

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 Langauge Arts Standards.

In response to COVID-19, since March 2020, Pilot Light has delivered more than 20 hours of professional development online to support teachers and Fellows in delivering food education in a safe, supportive environment and will continue to do so.


Through Pilot Light lessons, students’ built on their knowledge related to our Food Education Standards over the year:

20% increase in students’ knowledge of how food from other countries arrives in our city.

22% increase in students’ knowledge of food being affected by the environment.

28% increase in students’ awareness of how their emotions, people around them, and messaging affect their food choices.


Through Pilot Light, food connects us to each other and provides students with developmentally appropriate structures that 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 our 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, I think lessons using food, become what education should be. That’s something that’s shared between a teacher and a student and as people with stories.”
– 19-20 Fellow, Disney II High School


Through Pilot Light, students build awareness of their health and making informed choices:

“One thing that stands out is after our salad making activity, a lot of students shared that their outlook on salads was totally different. They felt way more positive about them. They didn’t realize how much flavor can go into a salad….And so it was really nice to see them play and experiment with all the color and all the flavor and just watch them enjoy all of it with their friends – this really communal thing. This was definitely an experience you know was going to stick with them in the long run. When I saw that, any time I saw a moment like that, that was the real marker of success for this program – when you know you’re having a real impact that’s actually going to stay.”
– 19-20 Fellow, Academy for Global Citizenship


Students look forward to Pilot Light lessons and teachers see increases in attendance:

“Pilot Light has had a huge impact on my class’s attendance and it is the highest it’s ever been. Food gives them something hands-on to do in the classroom. I realized that as long as they’re making or doing something with food, they’ll come to school for it.”
– 3rd Grade Teacher, Claremont Elementary



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 my 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 Fellow alumni are committed to continuing Pilot Light food education lessons on a consistent basis.

“I will keep doing Pilot Light lessons. I think I would continue to follow a similar design to this year with weekly-ish discussion/connection to food and at least 1 food experience a month. My students LOVE it and I’ve seen it very effectively connect them more deeply with the material.”
– 19-20 Fellow

“Pilot Light works, my kids love it and it makes my classroom more enjoyable for everyone.”
– 19-20 Fellow


Through the Fellowship professional development, our Fellows become leaders in food education in their schools and communities:

“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!”
– 19-20 Fellow

“Pilot Light works and I believe it is necessary in every classroom in every city.”
– 19-20 Fellow

Learn more about our Teacher and School Partners



Students are bringing their food education into the home:

“My daughter now loves to help in the kitchen and cook her own meals!”
– Pilot Light parent

“He was excited about eating more fruits and vegetables. A win for me. Keep them coming, please!”
– Pilot Light parent

“I feel that my child stopped eating a lot of junk food after she made her first Pilot Light recipe. She has enjoyed Pilot Light a lot.”
– Pilot Light parent


Parents are impacted by Pilot Light food education through their children:

24% increase in parents’ knowledge of Pilot Light food education

19% increase in parents believing that schools need more opportunities for food and nutrition education

20% increase in parents’ confidence that their child would ask for food he/she/they would like to try at home

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