If you are out of work, down on your luck, or disabled, the government's Food Stamps program can be a lifesaver.
But what about the dogs and cats that live with many of these people? It's been an ongoing debate for years: Should they get assistance too?
Should Puppies Get Help?
Lauren Scott and her friends love her new puppy. But even they don't think little Baxie, or any dog, should be eligible for Food Stamps.
"I don't think they should be spending government money on an animal that they don't need," Scott said.
"I think it's more of a luxury than a necessity," another of her friends said.
Everyone we spoke with in a downtown lunchtime crowd told us Food Stamps should be for people, not pets.
"I believe Food Stamps should be used for the children and the family at home, not for pets or cats or dogs or birds," said Shonda Thompson.
But if you are among the 40 million families who can't afford food for your table, you can't afford decent dog food.
While you can buy Coke or Mountain Dew with your assistance card, you can't buy dog food. There's no federal program that provides help for pets.
New Service Offers Help
So one entrepreneur is trying to fix that, creating a non-profit company called "Pet Food Stamps.org ."
It relies solely on donations.
The goal: Help strapped pet owners who might otherwise turn their pet over to a shelter, where they are then put to sleep.
Becky Reiter of the Boone County Animal Shelter said back in December that it's becoming a real problem.
"In the last few years," she said, "we've seen an increase in the number of animals turned in by their owners. We believe that the economy is having an effect on some middle class families ability to afford to spay and neuter and the cost of taking on a pet."
Already, almost 200,000 people have applied for help at PetFoodStamps.org .
Thousands more are donating to prevent people from abandoning animals because they cant afford to feed them.
So you may want to consider a pet adoption, or just helping out, so you don't waste your money.
As always, don't waste your money.