Nightly News   |  November 28, 2013

Food pantries face shortages due to crippling cuts

NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports on the shortage at food panties across the nation in the aftermath of $5 billion dollars in cuts to the federal food stamps program.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there has been a run on the nation's food pantries in the weeks leading up to this thanksgiving. demand has soared after $5 billion in cuts to the federal food stamps program at the start of november. tonight, a lot of families are finding themselves without even the basics to prepare a holiday meal. our report, part of the nbc news series on poverty we call "in plain sight" is supported by a grant from the ford foundation . more now from nbc 's janet shamlian .

>> reporter: people with donations pouring in. they can barely keep the shelves stocked at this food pantry outside denver. cory smith volunteers here every week. he has never seen it so crowded.

>> as you can tell they are working really hard, they're coming in, lunch break, trying to do something just to get a little extra food.

>> reporter: many are first timers to a pantry. and like some 47 million americans hard hit by food stamp cuts.

>> it is heartbreaking.

>> reporter: the director says the pantry is providing a record 6,700 thanksgiving meals. pantries across the country are feeling it, a level of demand they haven't seen in years. as a new wave of clients seeks out emergency food and thanksgiving dinner . tough times are hitting home for families like the rarings in tennessee. with three children they now get $36 less each month in food stamps .

>> $36 goes a long ways actually. we could probably eat three days on that at least.

>> reporter: they worked hard to avoid being on public assistance. but with their organic bakery closing christmas eve it is now a necessity.

>> you feel ashamed. you don't really want to tell people. we love what we do. and we were hoping it would work out.

>> reporter: they're receiving food from a pantry this year, just like millions of others.

>> it is our responsibility to help the community do better. it is personal. it is very personal.

>> reporter: in the season of plenty, still, an abundance of need. janet shamlian , nbc news, lakewood, colorado.