Pilot Light is a nonprofit organization founded by some of Chicago’s top Good Food chefs to bring food education to students in Chicago Public Schools. And even though school’s out for the summer, Pilot Light is doing events around town to spread the word about its important social mission.
The first thing you notice if you visit a school with a Learning Garden from The Kitchen Community non-profit organization is … joy. The chance to get their instruction outdoors instead of in the classroom — learning to put seeds in soil, nurture the plants, and then harvest the food they have grown — is something the children really seem to relish. Yet it may take a few years, at least for the little ones, to realize what serious purposes are behind this fun school time.
Imagine a school teaching Chicago children from kindergarten through 12th grade on a seven-acre campus — three of those acres devoted to urban agriculture — designed by famed architect Jeanne Gang’s Studio Gang. Imagine this school incorporating local citizenship, sustainability, Good Food, social justice and other values into its curriculum… serving organic, locally sourced, made-from-scratch food in its cafeteria… and producing more energy than it uses. Then imagine this school is not in an upscale Chicago neighborhood or tony suburb, but rather on the industrial, mostly Hispanic, mostly low-income Southwest Side. That is the vision for the expansion of the Academy for Global Citizenship — for which the charter school’s foundation will raise money at its 5th Annual Chefs Playground on June 9 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
It is alway a joyous day when FamilyFarmed gets to visit a school garden that gives children the tools to learn how to grow food and other plants. The Kitchen Community nonprofit installed a new garden at Wendell Smith Elementary on Chicago’s far South Side May 30, and the enthusiasm of the children who helped in the planting was infectious. But the trip was even more rewarding, because a $2 million donation to The Kitchen Community from Wells Fargo Bank was announced at a ceremony at the end of the installation
The people who attended the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration on Sunday (April 30) — to help accelerate the Good Food movement — hopefully will always remember the evening they spent in what we called the Culinary All-Star Food Court. So as our thank you note, we present a photo essay of all of the participating chefs, with links to the chef profile series that Good Food on Every Table published in recent weeks.
Jason Hammel of the critically acclaimed Lula Café is a rarity among Chicago’s top chefs, in that he did not learn the craft in the kitchens of culinary legends. Jason is essentially self-taught. But he counts Chicago legends such as Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan and Matthias Merges as his role models and mentors. Like them, he has played a major role in sourcing from local and regional farmers. We are honored to have Jason as a participating chef at the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for Chef Rick Bayless‘ Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
Tim Magner works to integrate food education with fun through Chicago-based programs such as Nature’s Farm Camp. He reports that the longterm decline in the quality and nutrition in school food is being reversed, in sync with the rise of the Good Food movement. More school gardens, more cooking classes, more efforts by many administrators to find healthier choices for students. In his article below, Tim describes the positive impact that is having for our nation’s schoolchildren and our food system in general.
A new federal farm bill is on course to be enacted as early as next year. Sustainable farmers and Good Food advocates would have needed to be on guard to protect these programs under any circumstances. But with the volatile political environment in Washington, D.C., supporters of these programs will need to be especially engaged. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has been the leading federal policy advocates for the Good Food movement for 30 years. Wes King, an NSAC policy specialist explains the political landscape for the 2018 farm bill and what advocates need to do to prepare.
“Team Leverage,” a collaboration of three major Good Food entities in the Chicago region, faced serious competition from four other strong finalists in the Food to Market Challenge. The team won the $500,000 award because of a strong social purpose — bringing healthy, nutritious, affordable food to more school children and their families — plus a distribution model with strong potential to be expanded in Chicago and replicated elsewhere.
When U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered the keynote address at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference March 24, he spoke three little words that are close to the hearts of the Chicago nonprofit organization and its community of like-minded advocates: Good Food movement.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival is this Saturday at the UIC Forum on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago. With exciting activities for adults and children too, it is hard to boil down the list of things to do. But we think this Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Festival list will be a useful guide.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival this Saturday caps our three-day, 12th annual Good Food Festival & Conference. The Festival is our big public celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement, and we say “public,” we mean the youngest among us, too! It is a very family-friendly event, and children 12 and younger get in free!
There are few more important avenues for ensuring continued progress toward a better U.S. food system than teaching children about healthy food produced sustainably, humanely and fairly. Pilot Light, a chef-driven nonprofit in Chicago, is one of the most promising and innovative programs addressing this priority. Paul Kahan, a co-founder of Pilot Light and FamilyFarmed’s 2016 Good Food Chef of the Year, discusses the program in this Q-and-A.
Chicago chef Paul Kahan has long been known for the culinary excellence of the successful and high-profile restaurants in the One Off Hospitality Group, currently at eight locations and growing. His kitchen mastery earned him the James Beard Foundation (JBF) Outstanding Chef Award in 2013. He was inducted into JBF’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage Read more about Chicago’s Paul Kahan, FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Chef of the Year: His Culinary Career[…]
Can a rich dessert be considered Good Food? It can when it is Eli’s Cheesecake and its owner, Marc Schulman, is a strong supporter of the Good Food movement and makes the effort to source from local producers when it is possible to do so.
Anne Alonzo, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, says there is a lot of passion for sharing Good Food by supporting strong local and regional food systems — something she experienced firsthand during her trip last week to Chicago, where she spoke at the Good Food Festival & Conference presented by FamilyFarmed.
Illinois Sen. Richard J. Durbin visited FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival & Conference Friday afternoon, praising the advances made by the Good Food movement. His visit came hours after an appearance at the event by Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Would you like to hang out with and learn from some of Chicago’s best-known chefs? And have you ever wanted to be a kid again? You might, then, be a little jealous of the Chicago schoolchildren who get to participate in the chef-driven Pilot Light educational program.
Unlike a certain purple dinosaur, Chicago’s Purple Asparagus — a nonprofit group that uses fun and age-appropriate activities to teach kids about Good Food — is named for a real plant that is a springtime delicacy. That is kind of the point. Teaching children from very young ages about the benefits of real, whole, wholesome food is crucial to their developing healthy eating habits as they grow up, and that is the core of Purple Asparagus’ mission.
Across our country, more and more schools have begun to source foods locally and to provide educational activities to students — a movement often called “farm to school.” Farm to school is growing, with major benefits for children, schools, families, farmers, food manufacturers, communities, and businesses.