David Cameron has come under pressure to launch an inquiry into why people are turning to foodbanks as demand for emergency supplies continues 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.
"As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop UK hunger getting worse."
Earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne suggested f oodbank use had increased " because people have been made aware of the foodbank service through local jobcentres".
But the Trust has echoed concerns that some households will have to choose between eating and heating this winter as they struggle to cope with the rising costs of food and energy.
It also highlights the impact of welfare reforms that came into force in April, reporting an increase in referrals as a result of the so-called "bedroom tax".
Mr Mould said: "Problems with welfare are not new, they have existed for years, but the reality is that when welfare provision breaks down, people go hungry.
"We're talking about mums not eating for days because they've been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons, or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed.
"It's not right that so many more people are now being referred to foodbanks due to problems with welfare, especially as much of this is preventable.
"This is not about pointing fingers, it's about finding solutions. That's why we believe an inquiry is now essential."
Chris Johnes, Oxfam's UK poverty programme director, said: "These figures lay bare the shocking scale of destitution, hardship and hunger in the UK.
"It is completely unacceptable that in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet, the number of people turning to foodbanks has tripled.
"Oxfam welcomes The Trussell Trust's call for the Prime Minister to launch an urgent inquiry into why people are forced to turn to foodbanks."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady described the figures as "shocking".
She said: "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."
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.
"In fact, our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with the Universal Credit making three million households better off - the majority of these from the bottom two fifths of the income scale."
Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead who is the Government's poverty adviser, told ITV Daybreak he feared foodbanks would become a permanent part of the "welfare scene" as in America.
Mr Field said he had raised the need for an inquiry into why there is an increasing demand for foodbanks with David Cameron a year ago. He added that he had mooted the possibility earlier this week that the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, might carry out the inquiry.
"A year ago, I said to the Prime Minister 'shouldn't we find out why this is happening in Britain, given how rich we are overall in Britain?'
"I reminded him three weeks ago, it is a year now since I posed that question to him and I am waiting for a reply. I am seeing the head of his office next week.
"I was talking to the Archbishop of Canterbury on Monday... he already has a good track record hasn't he? But whether in fact he might actually do the inquiry and have the inquiry results well before the general election, so that he can actually appeal to the parties."
Mr Field said he believed there were a number of factors that were affecting demand for foodbanks, including delays in picking up benefit.
"It is clearly a number of factors and the trust reports on that," he said.
"One is that there is a huge delay now in people picking up their benefit, so much so that in Birkenhead and other constituencies, Jobcentre Plus hands out the vouchers for people to go to the foodbank because they know they won't get their benefit on time.
"Others are suffering sanctions, some quite rightly because they have not turned up to do jobs but others literally were unaware of the requirements on them.
"We have got wages being cut and it does raise the really big issue of whether we now have a welfare state which pays people an adequate minimum or not.
"My worry is that unless we find out the causes of this and deal with those causes, foodbanks will become part of the welfare scene as they are in America."
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said "a very important reason" for the increased use of foodbanks was a Government decision to lift a ban, operated under the previous administration, on JobCentre staff informing claimants of their availability.
Asked whether Mr Cameron would consider the call for an inquiry, the spokesman told a daily Westminster media briefing: "It is always open to the House, select committees and the like, to look into issues."
The spokesman said: "It is this Government that has lifted the block on JobCentres being able to point people who are going through the JobCentre system in the direction of the type of additional assistance that foodbanks may provide.
"One of the very important reasons why there is increased usage is the lifting of the block."
He added: "The Prime Minister has numerous times on the record welcomed the role that foodbanks play in the community in providing additional assistance.
"We do have a welfare system which provides support to millions of people on the lowest incomes. There has long been a tradition of the charitable and voluntary sector working alongside state provision. I don't think that's a new feature here in the UK.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: "This tripling of food bank usage over just one year is shocking and shaming.
"The Trussell Trust themselves point to David Cameron's cruel and unfair bedroom tax as a major driver of this startling increase, as well as the wider cost of living crisis we are seeing, with food prices and energy bills rising faster than wages month after month.
"This should be a wake-up call to the Tory-led Government who are totally out of touch with the hardship their policies are creating.
"They should reverse the bedroom tax now, as Labour has promised to, using money raised by closing tax loopholes, take action on rising gas and electricity bills - and start standing up for ordinary families instead of putting a privileged few first."