Nightly News | October 06, 2012
>>> back now with a sign of the times . some schools across the country where some kids are sticking around long after the last bell for the final meal of the day they otherwise may not get. rahima ellis reports.
>> reporter: nestled in the hills of west virginia is doddridge elementary school . inside, a familiar scene, students lining up to eat in the cafeteria.
>> grab your milk.
>> reporter: but it's 5:20 in the evening and this is a free dinner, chicken and salad wraps with apple crisp for dessert.
>> it just tastes really good.
>> reporter: with more than 25% of children living at or below the poverty line in west virginia , the need is great.
>> some children when they leave here at the end of the day they don't eat another meal until they come in in the morning.
>> you're welcome.
>> some of these kids will ask for seconds because you know there's a sibling at home that hasn't eaten yet and they want to put it in their backpack so they'll have something to eat.
>> reporter: doddridge is one of 120 schools where 50% of the students qualify for subsidized school dinners . it's part of a ten-year program to provide dinner to school kids in the nation's poorest communities.
>> honestly, i was, like, oh, one more thing that we are going have to do, but then the benefits that we've seen far outweigh any inconvenience that it may have had.
>> reporter: experts say students just do better at school when they're well fed. tina mccartney, a work other mother says it also helps the family's bottom line .
>> think i save an average of $40 a week.
>> reporter: while the dinner is free the kids can't just show up and eat. they also have to be enrolled in the after-school academic program, right?
>> reporter: there are extra classes and tutoring and reading and math.
>> we saw classroom performance increase. we saw a decrease in the discipline referrals.
>> reporter: some wonder at what cost.
>> i wonder when kids eat three meals a day at school when is there going to be family bonding time?
>> we've come a long way since " leave it to beaver ," kids need dinner. kids can't go to bed hungry.
>> reporter: 's america's schools responding to a growing need, food for thought . rahima ellis, doddridge , west