What Would You Do? Single Mom of Four Can't Afford Groceries

PHOTO hidden cameras in Mattsons Market in BurlingtonPlayABC News
WATCH You Break It, You Buy It

You're standing in line at your local grocery store and you see a customer scrambling through her purse to pay for her items, eventually walking away, looking defeated and empty-handed. Unfortunately, it is something our society knows all too well, a mother or father struggling to feed their family.

With the country's unemployment rate at 9.4 percent, more and more people are turning to government assistance programs for help. Food stamp usage has risen 20 percent from last year, according to a study by the Food Research and Action Center. About one in every eight Americans receive food stamps.

ABC News' "What Would You Do?" rigged hidden cameras in Mattson's Market in Burlington Township, N.J., to see what will happen if the customer checking out can't pay the bill.

Our actress unloads her groceries and waits for her total. "I'm so sorry, it says insufficient funds," the checkout person says.

"I'm going to try it again, I'm sorry I thought I had enough on my card," replies our actress.

Within a matter of minutes, a woman in line steps in to help our distressed mother, "How much does she need?"

Our actress tries to refuse, but the woman insists, "No please take it." When we try it again, another stranger steps up to the plate: "How much does she owe, I will put it on here, she doesn't have anything on her card? No that's alright, give it to her."

Throughout the day, many people were willing to step in and help our actress.

At one point, she says, "It says insufficient funds, oh, my God, I got to get food for Thanksgiving ... no money on my card?"

A young man standing behind her appears to hear everything but doesn't say anything. We wonder if he is ignoring our actress' troubles.

When we approach him, he shares with us that he is on food stamps himself and doesn't have the money to help her. "I felt bad for her, I wish I could have helped but, you know, times are hard right now."

'How Could You Not Help Somebody Like That'

New Jersey's unemployment rate is 9.2 percent, leaving more than 750,000 people without jobs. While times are tough for almost everyone, fellow shoppers of this small town store still want to step in and help.

As our actress' card is denied again and she is standing in line crying, we notice a man standing behind her, counting the money in his hand. When he has counted enough money to cover his own groceries, he gives her the rest.

When thanked, he simply nods his head and says, "I understand, I'm lucky to even have a job."

We approach him and ask why he stepped up, and he explains, "Times are tough for a lot of people, and she was saying she was a single mother, with four kids, I mean how could you not help somebody like that? It was the least I could do for her. You do good things for people and good things come back to you."

The people of this small town proved to us that many are willing to step up and help if they have the means, but we wondered how our fellow shoppers would react if the customer standing directly behind our distraught actress harassed her.

CLICK HERE to watch the full episode.