With a desire to create healthy relationships between American children and food, a group of chefs created Pilot Light in 2010. This program partners with teachers of preschool through 12th grades to make food education a part of everyday classroom lessons.

Through holistic food education, students learn about the cultivation and preparation of food and the connection to our culture, relationships, history and the environment.

With support from USDA’s Farm to School Grant Program, Pilot Light integrates food education into subjects like math and reading while collaborating with the local community including food experts, farmers and chefs. Visit pilotlightchefs.org.

Incorporating food education into the academic setting enriches the core curriculum and further encourages students’ critical thinking in a manner both tangible and applicable to their daily lives.

More than 20,000 students nationwide have engaged in Pilot Light’s food education program, which builds food knowledge and skills that inspire informed decision-making and advocacy for a sustainable, equitable, and accessible food system.

Pilot Light was featured in the Food Network’s “Feed Your Passion” series, presented by Edward Jones. Go online, bit.ly/3IMcYOM, to watch co-founder, Chef Jason Hammel, lead a food education lesson in partnership with Chef Carla Hall at Chandra Garcia Kitch’s Chicago third grade classroom at Ray Elementary School.

Allison Zaccardi, a high school family and consumer science teacher in Saint Paul, Minnesota, explored concepts of sustainable agriculture.

Her students chose a recipe and selected one ingredient to follow through the food system. In the process, they identified the food, researched its production, processing, packaging, transportation and policy or regulations around its production, as well as the environmental impact of growing the food. Then, the students made their recipes and reflected on their learning.

Sandra MacMartin is a public affairs

specialist with USDA Food and Nutrition Service’s Midwest Regional Office. Alex DeSorbo-Quinn serves as executive director for Pilot Light in food and nutrition security.