Pilot Light is the chef-driven program that helps Chicago Public Schools integrate food and nutrition education into their students’ overall curriculum. And the nonprofit organization is prepping for its biggest expansion yet, adding eight schools to its lineup for a total of 14 around the city of Chicago.
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
Visiting Growing Home’s urban farm would be a great field trip for FamilyFarmed wherever it was located. But Growing Home’s location, at 5814 S. Wood Street, and the social mission that it entails is what makes this nonprofit organization truly amazing: It is in the heart of West Englewood, a neighborhood of about 35,000 residents — nearly all African American — that has suffered from decades of job and population loss, economic decline and high crime rates.
Chefs Erling Wu-Bower of Chicago’s Nico Osteria and Cosmo Goss of The Publican are two of the biggest young stars on the city’s and nation’s restaurant scene. So when they went to their boss at the hugely successful One Off Hospitality Group — James Beard Award winning chef Paul Kahan — a few months ago to tell him that they planned to open their own restaurant, Paul says, “Man, my brain exploded.” But Paul himself had benefited from the nurturing and encouragement of the chefs from whom he learned, such as Rick Bayless, and he and his business partners are helping Erling and Cosmo plan and develop their restaurant. All three chefs will participate on Sunday in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Matthias Merges is a leader in Chicago’s culinary community. Matthias also, from very early on, has been deeply committed to making Chicago and its communities better. So it’s not surprising that Chef Rick Bayless, was eager to have Matthias participate in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for his Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
We often highlight the potential for Good Food businesses to revitalize economically challenged communities and improve the lives of those who live there. Few businesses combine both of those elements in one person as much as Chicago’s Westside Bee Boyz. Founder Thad Smith’s beekeeping and honey company is still quite small, but he has big dreams for the company. He views it as a platform for community and young entrepreneur development in North Lawndale and other troubled communities in Chicago.
The three pillars of the Good Food movement are a healthier, a more environmentally sustainable, and more economically dynamic food system that puts Good Food on Every Table. This year’s Festival will put a special accent on that first pillar — Good Food’s massive contribution to building a society with healthier, happier people and lower health care costs — with panels on Good Food is Good Medicine and Food and Mood.
Windy City Harvest operates four training programs on 13 farm sites that, according to Director of Operations Kelly Larsen, “all aim to create a pathway of opportunity within local food” for urban farmers, including youths from economically challenging circumstances. Larsen will share her experiences and expertise in growing Good Food and Good Food jobs in urban communities tomorrow (Thursday, March 16) as a panelist at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference at Chicago’s UIC Forum.
The best Good Food news we’ve read this week: Midwest Good Food Turning Detroit’s Abandoned Homes Into Greenhouses, The Atlantic Milwaukee County To Be Home To Largest Urban Organic Fruit Orchard In US, Wisconsin Public Radio National Good Food Conversation Why Washington’s First Lady is Growing Her Own Grains, Civil Eat A Sustainable Food Read more about Weekly Link Roundup – November 4[…]
“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.
The best Good Food news we’ve read this week: Midwest Good Food Rooftop wheat fields elevate Chicago’s urban farming scene to exciting new heights, Inhabitat In Englewood, Whole Foods opens to cheers, high hopes, Chicago Tribune Here Are 14 Local Products At The New Englewood Whole Foods, DNAInfo Will selling to ConAgra affect Bayless’ Read more about Weekly Link Roundup – September 30[…]
There was an air of promise that surrounded Wednesday morning’s grand opening of the Whole Foods Market store in the troubled Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
The best Good Food news we’ve read this week: FamilyFarmed in the News Kendall College Launches a Business Incubator for Food Entrepreneurs, ChicagoInno Midwest Good Food Can Whole Foods Lift Up New Englewood Plaza? Business Owners Have Faith, DNAInfo Midwest Farmers Brew Up Hops For Local Craft Beer, Earth Eats New Fulton Market Harvest Read more about Weekly Link Roundup – September 16[…]
Chicago’s Green City Market is known as one of the nation’s premier farmers market. The Market’s big annual public celebration is its Chef BBQ, which is coming up next week on Thursday, July 21. The event is kind of a foodie fantasy camp, but there is also an important social mission. Green City Market executive director Melissa Flynn discusses in the latest installment of our “Farm to Table: Keeping It Real” series.
Urban agriculture in on the rise, in many cases providing jobs, opportunities and access to Good Food for residents of underserved communities. But the farm Jen Rosenthal manages on Chicago’s South Side has particular social significance: It is on a site once occupied by apartment towers of The Robert Taylor Homes, which had grown so troubled-plagued that its residents were relocated and the buildings torn down.
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.
Make a small, charitable donation this week to help deliver delicious and healthy food from leading Chicago restaurants and other food servers to nonprofit organizations that distribute it to people in need. Get a voucher for a treat from one of dozens of participating outlets. Sound good?