Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

Pilot Light is dedicated to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, believing these values are a strategic and moral imperative and integral to achieving our mission and vision

Food can create community. 

Our first Food Education Standard is “Food Connects Us to Each Other” and this connection through food–one that we build alongside educators, youth, and communities through our program–is at the heart of what we do. Food often reflects our likes and dislikes, our cultures and ethnicities, and what our family or friends eat. By sharing food with others, we connect as humans and learn more about one another’s lived experiences and identities. The sharing of food provides us greater opportunities to hold space for all to explore and share at the table.

We take an asset-based community approach¹ to the fight for food equity and justice.

We build upon existing knowledge, skills, experiences, connections, and assets within communities to empower young people and advocate for social justice. Because race and culture are central to our experience with food, we strive and are committed to creating an equitable student experience that is collaborative, participatory, adaptable, and that relies on principles of cultural humility and builds off of their individual knowledge and experiences with food.

Food inequities and injustices persist.

Food insecurity, food apartheid², and lack of food sovereignty³ disproportionately affect communities of color (specifically Black, Brown, Latinx, and Indigenous folx) due to generations of systemic racism. These inequities and injustices further create disparities in educational access, land ownership and food access, and diet-related disease. 

We strive to:

  • Center the voices of the educators, young people, families, and communities we support in our decision-making processes and build upon their leadership through:
    • continuous feedback, collaboration, and planning around scaffolded curricula development incorporating of varying levels of participation;
    • mindfulness and adaptability around access to ingredients, supplies, and technology;
    • expansion and amplification of culturally responsive resources, recipes, and stories. 
  • Guide our strategy and financial decision-making through an equity lens;
  • Allocate time and resources to support connections between classroom lessons and real food in communities through:
    • conversations that are driven by community wants, needs, priorities, and involvement that link our educators with community leaders
    • careful inclusion and selection of Fellows, schools, and community partners in our programming from communities disproportionately impacted by food inequities and injustices 
    • grants for supplies for additional educators not in the Fellowship
    • support of district-level school food connections and collaborations between cafeteria staff, administrators, and educators 
  • Have difficult and uncomfortable conversations about equity amongst our team and boards, educating ourselves, and frequently acknowledging our privileges, biases, and shortcomings;
  • Actively seek diverse stakeholders, including staff, Board members, Food Education Fellows, vendors, and volunteers. We believe it is essential to have and hold space for these voices of different backgrounds and perspectives at the table to connect and collaborate with while deepening the impact of our work in cultivating humility, empathy, and creativity

To execute on these goals, we know that it takes a consistent and ongoing effort, and we have an active Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force of Board and staff guiding and tracking these efforts. We are here to listen and learn, and we welcome and ask for feedback to keep and hold us accountable to our commitments.

 

_____________________________________

¹A term used alongside community-based participatory research that focuses on the following: acknowledging the community as the primary unit of identity; enhancing and building on the existing strengths of the community; fostering collaborative relationships between the academic institution and community partners throughout the entire research process; and knowledge gained through the partnership is translated into specific action. (Research conducted by Janet Weiner (MPH LDI Associate Director for Health Policy University of Pennsylvania) and Jasmine A. McDonald (PhD Postdoctoral Fellow, Cancer Epidemiology, Columbia University) in Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics Volume 18, Issue 5, April 2013 Three Models of Community-Based Participatory Research)
² A term used in looking at the whole food system, along with race, geography, faith, and economics to acknowledge the root causes of racial and social inequalities (such as hunger and poverty) in vibrant communities and those causes effects on residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables). (coined by Karen Washington in this article and preferred to the USDA’s definition of food desert
³ The right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. — Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007 (Sources: US Food Sovereignty Alliance , and original source from Via Campesina)
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Follow Us