cupboard is bare, the

cupboard is bare

1. Literally, there is no or very little food in the house. Often pluralized. I wish I had something to offer you to eat, but we haven't done our grocery shopping this week, and I'm afraid the cupboards are bare.
2. By extension, resources—especially money—are very tight or nonexistent. Often pluralized. The government has promised to help alleviate the strain on those out of work, but I don't know how it will accomplish that when its own cupboards are bare. The school district's cupboard is bare after federal funding was cut by 20%.
See also: bare, cupboard

cupboard is bare, the

The desired resources are not available, as in The schools are asking for a budget increase but the cupboard is bare. This metaphoric expression may have come from the nursery rhyme: "Old Mother Hubbard, went to the cupboard, to fetch her poor dog a bone, And when she went there, the cupboard was bare, and so the poor dog had none" (Sarah Catherine Martin, The Comic Adventures of Old Mother Hubbard, 1805).
See also: cupboard
References in periodicals archive ?
The cupboard is bare, the people crave a General Election and that promised referendum on the thinly disguised European Constitution.