More people are relying on food parcels and charity as the Government tightens welfare, the Council of Christian Social Services says.
The council released its 14th vulnerability report on Friday, which showed a widening gap between the number of unemployed and those receiving benefits.
Executive officer Trevor McGlinchey said this had led to emergency support services - such as Salvation Army and City Mission - experiencing unprecedented demand for help in many parts of the country.
Mr McGlinchey partly blamed the Government's welfare changes for the increased demand.
Charity services were stepping into the gap left by contracting state support.
"It may be as a result of the welfare changes going through a settling-in period - or it may be that some of our most vulnerable citizens are no longer getting the support we expect for our fellow New Zealanders."
The Government is part way through sweeping welfare reform, which is creating new benefit categories and places a greater emphasis on getting beneficiaries into work.
Last week, the Government revealed that in the December 2012 quarter the number of people on a benefit had dropped to the lowest level since 2008.
The Green Party said it was concerning that benefit numbers were falling while unemployment was rising.
- The Dominion Post