A social worker in Northland says middle-aged working people are emerging as the 'new poor', going by the numbers now asking for help.
Alina Mancini of the 155 Centre in Whangarei says the numbers of people asking for food has soared.
For the first time, she is seeing middle-aged people who have never before had to ask for help.
She says many have lost their jobs and have not been able to find new ones, or retraining opportunities.
Ms Mancini says it is clear that retraining or finding a new job has become very difficult for many middle-aged people.
The 155 Centre helps families with food, budgeting and legal advice.