There are a variety of private and governmental assistance programs that can help you pay your bills, although the exact ones you are eligible for may vary. In most states, calling 211 can help you find the government programs available to you.
Most states have some programs in place to help needy people pay their utility bills. These can take the form of state-issued credits or a discount program through the utility provider itself. A common tactic is a balanced payment plan, which allows the user to pay a predetermined amount each month instead of variable bills. Needy customers can also apply for grants or other assistance from non-profits such as churches or community action programs.
There are a variety of programs to help with grocery bills as well. Private charities provide soup kitchens and food pantries, which are usually open to anyone in need. Many families qualify for food stamps, properly known as SNAP, which provides money to buy groceries directly. Families with very young children may also qualify for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, which provides money to buy nutritious foods for growing children.
For outstanding credit card bills or other debt, there are free debt counseling and consolidation services available to most people. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is a good resource for helping consumers access these resources for free or on a sliding-scale payment.