FOOD is becoming a discretionary item for low-income earners in Blacktown, with the group first on the list of people in need of food relief, a recent report says.
About 20 welfare agencies in Blacktown receive food from hunger relief charity Foodbank.
Chief executive of Foodbank Gerry Andersen said the organisation relied on donations from retailers and members of the Australian Food and Grocery Council and fresh fruit and vegetables recovered from the Riverina to service demand.
Mr Andersen said it was a surprise that low-income families were ranked the highest need group for food relief in the End Hunger 2012 report, followed by the unemployed, single-parent families and homeless people.
He said mortgage, rent and electricity stress were among the contributing factors for this.
"If people need a car to get to their job then they need to pay for petrol because, if they can't do that and get to work, they'll end up unemployed.
"People still have to pay for all of these things, then at the end of it food has become a discretionary spend."
Barbara Keteku does volunteer work with non-profit organisation AOG Living Community Services, which has recently moved from Blacktown to Prospect.
She said pantry and tinned food items were among the most in demand.
"Anyone in need of food can come and pick what they need," she said.