• After-school program feeds students dinner


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla.,None - Some Orange County students are part of a statewide effort that's considered the first of its kind in Florida.

    One organization is now making sure students don't go hungry after the bell rings.

    At Waterbridge Elementary School, 40 students patiently waited outside the cafeteria as workers inside prepared something they don't get very often.

    Waterbridge is one of a dozen schools in Orange County that provides dinners five days a week. It started in February, and serves up to 65 students a day.

    "We're finding that across the state, some kids don't even go home to a supper or have that opportunity to stop somewhere on the way home," said Greg Snow, regional director for after school programs.

    A federal grant provides the free meals to Waterbridge and other schools. To date, 8,000 dinners have been served in Orange County alone. Some Orange County schools were picked to host the program because they have a high number of students participating in reduced lunch.

    "It's a proven fact that children who eat a nutritious supper at night sleep better, behave better at school and test better at school," Snow said.

    It's a big help to moms like Jennifer Johnson, with two children in the program. Some days, she said, are just too busy.

    "It's that much less that I have to worry about at the end of the day. You know, you pick them up and just go home," Johnson said.

    And go to sleep, without having to go hungry. The free meals are also provided to 43 schools in Broward and Collier counties. The after-school program hopes to expand the program to Miami-Dade.

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