An ITV News survey shows the strain being felt by the UK's independent food banks.
The issues causing the rise in food poverty are more complex than the Left Right ping-pong about the recession and austerity suggests.
The Trussell Trust has said that over 300,000 people were given emergency handouts between 2011 and 2012, 120,000 of those children.
Commenting on the rise in the number of people using foodbanks, a Government spokesman said:
"We have taken action to help families with the cost of living, including increasing the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000 which will save a typical taxpayer over £700, freezing council tax for five years and freezing fuel duty.
"The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new foodbanks every week, so it's not surprising more people are using them. They also agree that awareness has helped to explain their recent growth.
"The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady described the numbers of people turning to foodbanks in the UK as "shocking".
– TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady
The Chancellor is talking up a recovery - but for who? These new figures show that, despite trying desperately hard to make ends meet, hundreds of thousands of people still can't afford to put food on the table for their families.
Welfare reforms like the Bedroom Tax have pushed more households into food poverty.
David Cameron has come under pressure to launch an inquiry into why people are turning to foodbanks as demand for the services continue to surge.
More than 350,000 people received a three-day food package from the Trussell Trust between April and September, three times as many as the same period last year.
It has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the "scandalous" problem of food poverty, warning some foodbank recipients are so poor they have returned produce that needs cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it up.
Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould said: "We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to foodbanks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse. The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable.
"It's scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of foodbanks."
Oxfam's Director of UK Poverty, Chris Johnes, has warned that welfare reforms could tip even more people into food poverty:
– Chris Johnes, oxfam
These shocking figures show that a perfect storm of spiralling living costs, lack of decent, secure jobs and benefit changes are making it impossible for many people to feed themselves or their families.
It's clear there is a massive hole in the safety net when so many more people are being forced to rely on emergency food handouts.
We are worried this could be just the tip of the iceberg as changes to the welfare system already in the pipeline could rip apart the safety net with devastating consequences for those who rely on it.
Pamela receives food from The Trussell Trust foodbanks, she says without them she would have to borrow money and it would be "chaos."
People who arrive for help at foodbanks are referred by doctors, social workers, schools liaison officers or advisers at the CAB and Jobcentre Plus.
Chris Mould, the Trussell Trust 's Executive Chairman, said: "We cannot ignore the hunger on our doorstep. Politicians across the political spectrum need to recognise the real extent of UK food poverty and create fresh policies that better address its underlying causes.
"This is more important than ever as the impact of the biggest reforms to the welfare state since it began start to take effect."
The government has said that it already provides a "safety net" to benefit claimants who need help with food, adding that some of the increase seen by the Trussell Trust could be due to Job Centres referring people to their service:
The government already provides a safety net for essentials like food and housing through the benefits system and claimants can also request a benefit advance or help from their local authority where needed.
We welcome the contribution voluntary organisations including the Trussell Trust play in supporting local communities, beyond the help provided by Government. That is why Jobcentre Plus - for the first time - is now referring people to their services.
– spokesman, Department for Work and Pensions
Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit simplifying the complex myriad of benefits and making three million people better off.
And by next year, we will have taken two million of the lowest earners out of paying tax altogether.
The Trussell Trust says the number of people turning to them for help was a "wake-up call to the nation". The charity claims the impact of welfare reforms that came into force this month has already sparked an increase in numbers passing through their doors.
- Of those helped over the last year 126,889 were children and most recipients were working-age families
- 30% of people helped were referred as a result of benefit delays
- 15% because of benefit changes
- Overall, the charity helped nearly 100,000 more people than it had anticipated
Source: The Trussell Trust
There has been a big jump in the number of people relying on emergency supplies from Trussell Trust foodbanks, with a fivefold increase since the coalition Government came to power.
The Trussell Trust charity says in the last financial year 346,992 people received three days' worth of emergency food. That compares to 61,468 in 2010/11.