Demand for Salvation Army food parcels has leapt as the effects of the recession are felt by increasing numbers of New Zealanders.
The organisation handed out 12,145 food parcels in the three months to June, up 40% on the same period last year.
The Salvation Army says its latest quarterly figures show a rapid deterioration in the living conditions of people on low incomes.
Forty new households are going to the organisation for food each week, meaning it is feeding a record 1000-plus households weekly.
The number of families which received other forms of help - such as clothing, bedding and budgeting advice - also grew by 30%.
The Salvation Army says it needs significant donations to meet the demand and is looking for ways to increase its supply of nutritional food and is reviewing the type and location of its services.
Director of social services Major Campbell Roberts says some people are embarrassed or reticent about seeking help, and their situation can be dire by the time they contact the Salvation Army.
The number of people going to the Auckland City Mission for food parcels has leapt more than 50% in the past six months.
The Christchurch City Mission is handing out about 50 food parcels a day, compared with 35 this time last year.