Nightly News   |  September 19, 2013

Food stamp program slashed by $40 billion in House vote

One in seven Americans rely on food stamps, but today the House of Representatives voted to cut billions from the budget, which would eliminate an estimated 3.8 million people from the program. NBC’s John Yang reports.

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>>> now to a number in the news tonight. one in seven americans re-elis on food stamps . there is an intense fight under way over how much taxpayer money should keep going to this longstanding part of what's called the safety net . tonight the house of representatives approved deep cutses to the food stamp program though democrats vow to block them. as part of the series reports on poverty called in plain sight we goat get the story from john yang in chicago.

>> reporter: every thursday audrey goes to a church food pantry on chicago's south side to restock her pantry at home.

>> how long will this last?

>> about a week.

>> reporter: a single mom , she sometimes skips meals so her 4-year-old son has enough to eat. she earn s $10 an hour as a part-time home health care worker and gets $151 a month in food stamps .

>> i'm making it. i'm fine.

>> reporter: with a little help.

>> with a little help.

>> reporter: she's part of a troubling trend. working families who rely on food stamps . since 2000 , the number of households with earnings getting food stamps has more than tripled. in 2011 reaching nearly 6.4 million. critics say the program, known as snap has gotten too big and too expensive. they want to restrict the program's eligibility, cutting about 4 million people from the roles. when unemployment declines the number of food stamp recipients still increase s.

>> reporter: defenders say it's big because the need is big.

>> the program has grown. we have we had the most severe economic downturn since the depression.

>> reporter: for sara moore , a three-time cancer survivor , food stamps mean she can afford fresh fruits and vegetables.

>> i wouldn't starve to death but i would be in trouble.

>> reporter: pastor sandra gillespie can't imagine if the program is reduced.

>> if snap benefits are cut, our numbers will go through the roof. i don't know if we'll be able to meet the need.

>> reporter: as millions of americans could find out harder to put food on the table.