Nightly News | September 16, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: We started tonight's broadcast by talking about the alarming rise in poverty in this wealthy nation. The numbers we said deserve our attention. And finally tonight, we're going to hear about struggles and hope from someone working every day on the front lines. Lisa Roberts runs a food pantry called Friends and Neighbors in a tiny village in southeast Ohio . We first heard from her in -- on this broadcast back in July as part of a "Dateline" special. But when we heard today's news about the 43 plus million Americans living in poverty, we thought it was time to hear from her again. So tonight we close our broadcast with Lisa Roberts in her own words.
Ms. LISA ROBERTS: Before they came to us, they went to their church, to their family, to their friends. They tried everything before they had to come to a food pantry and say, 'I don't have enough to feed my family.'
Unidentified Woman #1: It feels like you go back to the Great Depression .
Unidentified Man #1: There's no jobs here.
Ms. ROBERTS: Most of the people that come to us don't just need food today, they're going to need it next week and the month after that and after that. How are you doing today?
Unidentified Man #2: Wonderful, wonderful. How about you?
Ms. ROBERTS: Good. It's not an emergency thing anymore. It's an everyday thing now. Sometimes you'll hear, 'Oh, you know, they're just laying back waiting for a handout. They could go to work if they wanted to go to work. They'd rather be on welfare. They'd rather have 100 kids.' It's not true. They're not asking to be rich, they're asking to not be hungry, to be able to pay their bills and buy their medicine. That's not too much. You have to stay hopeful or you're going to cry, you know. How am I going to face the people that are going to come through here without hope, without a smile, without, 'Come on, you know, it's going to get better. We can pull it together.' The America that my parents raised me up was, you know, this is the promised land. It is beautiful here. It is our home and it can be good. It can be. I want it to be strong again. I want that strong, fighting spirit that exists to overcome.
WILLIAMS: Food pantry director Lisa Roberts in her own words. And a couple of things here, after the "Dateline" story aired, by the way, she received a lot of donations. She's hoping she can expand her pantry to reach even more people in the area. And to see Ann Curry 's superb documentary in its entirety on poverty in America , there's a link to it on our Web site . That's nightly.msnbc.com.