Demand for food support has skyrocketed, but there are not enough donations to keep up.
A survey of 43 food charities conducted between January and June of this year found the cost of living and the pandemic to be the top reasons for needing food support.
New Zealand Food Network (NZFN) chief executive, Gavin Findlay, said the impact of the pandemic, as well as rising inflation, "means food insecurity is likely to get worse".
The network found it supports over half a million people each month, but needs more donations to cope.
"We saw unprecedented demand for food over lockdown, and with every major alert level change came surges in demand," Findlay said.
"Even though all but a few Covid-19 restrictions have now been dropped, our survey results show the extent to which they have seriously impacted Kiwis."
Of those surveyed, 79 percent said they needed food support because of low-paying jobs, while 70 percent said it was because they were unemployed.
Covid-19 isolation was the reason for 60 percent of those surveyed.
Findlay said the statistics clearly show there was more work to do to ensure people's needs were being met by food support organisations and food businesses.
People asking for food support mainly requested meat, dairy and fresh produce, which were hard to come by in food rescue.
Ingrid Klein-Ovink from the charity Good Neighbour said: "Our recipient organisations are finding it really challenging to keep up with demand."
Klein-Ovink said need had increased by over 15 percent over the last six months in the community organisations that it helps.
NZFN saves food from going to landfill and gives it to communities in need.
While it offers businesses the opportunity to donate their bulk surplus, it said help from the wider business sector is needed to keep up with increasing demand.