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ACT Will Provide Free Breakfast to Thousands of ACT Test-Takers in Florida and Texas, Expanding Pilot Program

IOWA CITY, Iowa—On April 13, 2019, ACT will provide free breakfast before the ACT test to students at 11 test centers in Florida and two in Texas, launching the next phase of the nonprofit organization’s long-term initiative to help ensure that hunger does not affect its examinees.

The expansion will reach roughly 1,000 students in Texas from Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District and more than 1,000 students in Florida across five different school districts including Bay District Schools, Clay County District Schools, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Orange County Public Schools, and Pinellas County Schools.

Students taking the ACT at the 11 designated high schools in Florida and two high schools in Texas—Edinburg High School and Economedes High School—will receive a complimentary breakfast before the test.

According to Feeding America, one in six children might not know where they will receive their next meal. ACT is attempting to fight food insecurity prior to testing, particularly among America’s most vulnerable students, through the continued growth and expansion of this initiative.

“This initiative furthers ACT’s commitments to help level the playing field for students and increase access and equity in the college going process, which align to our longstanding mission to help people achieve education and workplace success,” said Scott Montgomery, senior vice president at ACT. “We believe every student should have an equal opportunity to show what they have learned without hunger getting in the way, and we are thrilled to partner with these districts to help make this idea a reality for students.”

This second phase of ACT’s initiative to fight food insecurity is an expansion of the pilot program successfully launched in Virginia in October 2018. The initiative draws from ACT research demonstrating that students who experience hunger—particularly those who have missed breakfast—are less able to perform academically, especially when testing.

“We are very excited to partner with ACT to provide this additional support for our students,” said Superintendent Bill Husfelt of Bay District Schools in Florida. “Hurricane Michael has presented many challenges for our students, and we sincerely appreciate all efforts to assist and encourage them.”

“We understand how important it is that our students have a nutritional meal before testing, and how it contributes to their performance on test day,” said
Superintendent of Edinburg CISD Dr. René Gutiérrez. “That’s why we are so thrilled to be working with ACT to provide examinees with a good breakfast before they take the ACT.”
In Florida, “Clay County District Schools is excited about our newly developed relationship with ACT as we seek to launch the ACT Breakfast Program for the upcoming assessment. This collaborative effort will allow students to be intellectually and emotionally prepared to demonstrate their best efforts on the ACT,” said Superintendent of Clay County District Schools Addison Davis. “We look forward to greeting our students alongside ACT’s team of practitioners to create a psychologically safe environment that will lead to students giving best effort on this assessment. We appreciate ACT for their willingness to think differently and taking the initiative to better prepare our students for success.”

In addition to the collaboration and support of our partner school districts in Florida and Texas, the expansion of ACT’s breakfast pilot has garnered the backing of a number of state officials:

  • “Hunger affects the educational experience of too many schoolchildren in Texas and across America, throughout the year and during testing season. This issue is very important to me and the communities I represent. I applaud ACT on this initiative, and believe it will help equalize opportunities that can come from students’ performance on this exam.” –Texas State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr.
  • “Experts have long said that a healthy breakfast can improve student performance in the classroom and on standardized tests. We are pleased that ACT has chosen the Clay County community to serve as a pilot project for its Breakfast before ACT Testing pilot program. Thank you, ACT, for supporting our students as they work hard toward academic excellence.” –Florida State Senator Rob Bradley
  • “I appreciate ACT for choosing Edinburg High School and Economedes High School for this initiative to help our students succeed on the ACT exam by providing a free breakfast. Education is the best equalizer. We must give our school children the best resources we can for them to perform well on the college entrance exam to ensure our state's future.” –Texas State Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa
  • “Student performance is impacted by so many factors both inside and outside the classroom. I applaud ACT for their efforts in the ‘Breakfast before ACT Testing’ pilot initiative to address unmet nutritional needs. After all, we need to equip our young students to perform at the highest level possible so that they achieve success in their educational goals.” –Florida State Representative Travis Cummings
  • “I want to commend ACT for recognizing the importance of students having a healthy breakfast before taking the ACT. In preparation for the upcoming testing on April 13, ACT will be supplying Dr. Phillips High School students a healthy and nutritious breakfast before the exam. A good breakfast will give our students a kick start to the morning and supply energy to keep them motivated while testing. Studies have shown that hunger can have a negative impact on student cognition and academic performance, and ACT has stepped in to make sure these students have the best possible outcomes when testing.” –Florida State Senator Victor M. Torres Jr.
  • “Thank you to ACT for including Pinellas County in the Breakfast before ACT Testing pilot program. Studies show that students who eat a meal before taking a test perform at a higher level. Our community is fortunate to have ACT as a partner in helping students achieve academic success.” –Florida State Representative Ben Diamond
  • “Pinellas County Schools is a proud participant in the Breakfast before ACT Testing pilot program in Florida. I am committed to the success of the students in my Senate District 16, and I hope this guides their continued success and helps strengthen our State of Florida.” –Florida State Senator Ed Hooper
  • “I encourage students at Dr. Phillips High School to eat a hearty breakfast compliments of ACT prior to taking the ACT on April 13. The nutritious breakfast will assist students to perform at an optimum level on the test, and I congratulate ACT for providing this meal to insure that no student is distracted while testing.” –Florida State Representative Geraldine Thompson
  • “I commend ACT for taking a holistic approach to improving student academic performance through the “Breakfast before ACT Testing” pilot initiative. In recognizing the multitude of factors that shape academic outcomes, ACT is taking an important step toward leveling the playing field for students who face nutritional insecurity or limited support systems outside the classroom.” –Florida State Senator Randolph Bracy
  • “It’s important not to underestimate the positive impact a full stomach has on students’ performance. I greatly appreciate that ACT, Inc. has chosen to provide free breakfast to Bay County students, especially in light of the difficulties our community has experienced post Hurricane Michael, and look forward to their success on the April ACT administration.” –Florida State Representative Jay Trumbull
ACT plans to expand the program further on upcoming test dates in a long-term initiative to combat hunger and help our most underserved students access breakfast before taking the ACT exam.

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ACT is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people achieve education and workplace success. Grounded in 60 years of research, ACT is a trusted leader in college and career readiness solutions. Each year, ACT serves millions of students, job seekers, schools, government agencies and employers in the US and around the world with learning resources, assessments, research and credentials designed to help them succeed from elementary school through career.