Response to COVID-19

Our Continued Response to COVID-19

We believe in the power of food education.

Providing information that allows children to make informed food choices is critical. Food connects and comforts us. Today, we need this more than ever.



While schools are closed, we are committed to supporting teachers in their transition to remote learning and to continue providing them with the resources to create engaging activities for students and families at home.

Virtual professional development is still available to our Food Education Fellows, who are working with us to eLearning lessons for Pilot Light Anywhere and video content for our wider community of teachers, students, and families.

Our Food Education Center remains a free, online resource that all teachers can access from their homes to support remote learning. Easy and engaging ways to bring food education into homes can be found in the Family Lessons and eLearning Lessons sections in the Food Education Center. These lessons are designed for teaching literacy-based food education for grades Pre-K through 12 – wherever you are. All lessons are built around our Food Education Standards and Common Core English Langauge Arts Standards. Our Food Education Standards provide a holistic scope of food education for all students. New eLearning lessons will continue to be added on a rolling basis, and we encourage you to check back regularly for updates. Sign up here for free access to the Center’s lessons.

Start with Food Education Standard 1: Food connects us to one another

We have also formed a partnership with Wyzant, an online tutoring company, to provide $200 of free online tutoring to teachers in need. Using Wyzant’s website or mobile app, you can search for and choose your perfect tutor and schedule lessons. Use your $200 coupon for any of Wyzant’s 60,000 tutors in more than 250 subject areas, including academic classes, test prep, coding, foreign languages, and more.

The coupon code is Pilot200 and can be redeemed through this link. It can also be entered during the checkout process.    

Parents and Guardians:

Parents can also visit our Family Lessons page to access family lessons, activities, and recipes—most in English and Spanish—all of which support learning at home. We believe food education provides an opportunity to learn together and to deepen connections during difficult, stressful times.

Many lessons will include a video that is part of our “Family Meal” series. Each video walks you and your children through food-based learning activities. Check out our archive of 46 videos Try these activities and tag us @pilotlightchefs #PLFamilyMeal when you post photos.

Start by making Hummus together!

Friends in the Hospitality Industry:

Pilot Light was founded by four Chicago chefs in 2010. Our ties to the hospitality industry run deep. The current crisis is decimating the industry and putting countless people out of work as businesses are forced to close.

We are launching two initiatives to support this community during the COVID19 crisis:

1) Through the generous support of an anonymous donor, we are able to invite food and hospitality professionals to apply to our Family Meal program. A $500 stipend is available to professionals in the hospitality industry who create a video from home that shows the completion of a recipe, one that draws on the participant’s personal expertise and love for food. You will be provided with information and guidance from Pilot Light staff to support you in the video production process. Your video will be shared on Pilot Light’s social media platforms and on our digital Food Education Center. We have funding allocated for a limited number of these videos. Please apply today by filling out this short application.

2) We are proud to have formed an alliance with Support Staff, a Chicago-based nonprofit, on the Comp Tab Relief Fund, a community-based relief fund created by and for hospitality professionals. It is a citywide campaign to ensure safety, financial security, and reliable access to resources for those in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries. Through this initiative, Support Staff and Pilot Light will work together to disseminate financial relief opportunities, as well as community resources to hospitality professionals throughout Chicago. Learn more here

Finally, if you are able, please consider supporting your local restaurants by ordering food (delivery or take out), purchasing gift cards, or contributing to their employee support funds. More information can be found on individual restaurant websites.

Our Continuing Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion:

This is a time of increased hardship for all of us. We are forced to spend time away from our extended families and navigate the complexities of working from home. We are facing financial uncertainty and concerns for our own health and the health of our loved ones. Unfortunately, communities of color disproportionately bear the social, economic, and health burdens of this pandemic. To begin to address this disparity, we at Pilot Light remain committed to fostering education and health equity through our work in food education. Our goal is to eliminate gaps in access to food education and to the healthy food choices that keep our communities thriving.

To meet the needs of our students, families, teachers, and partners during the COVID-10 pandemic, we have launched a new Family Meal program which provides free resources to foster family connections in a manner that is inclusive of people of all backgrounds with varying levels of access to healthy meals. Core to the mission of this program is our commitment to increasing the visibility of underrepresented communities in cooking. To further this mission, we have intentionally sought to work with chefs and content creators who represent the diverse community we hope to reach and support. Additionally, the staff and board of Pilot Light have been using this time to connect with community organizations in underserved communities with the goal of expanding our reach and using those connections to diversify our staff and cohort of fellows to better reflect the identities of our students and families. As we look forward to the 2020-2021 school year, we are continuing to increase and deepen our programming efforts for communities on Chicago’s south and west sides by recruiting fellows from these communities to serve as leaders in food education alongside our inaugural cohort of fellows from the 2019-2020 school year.

Pilot Light’s values recognize the shared burden of fighting systemic racism and at this time we lend our support to all communities of color and, in particular, Asian and Asian Pacific Americans who are facing increased disrespect and aggression.

Thank you so much! May you and all your loved ones stay safe and well.

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