Everyday families, adults and the elderly rely on food parcels from Hailsham Food Bank rather than starve as they pay bills instead of buying food.
The Food Bank charity has fed 162 people - around three a day -including 81 children since opening on October 28.
The true extent of the crisis was revealed as Tesco launched its ‘Help Feed People in Need’ food collection appeal with food charity FareShare and Food Bank charity the Trussell Trust.
A combination of low income and debts has led to the crisis, said Hailsham Food Bank manager Malcolm Richards.
It comes as figures show 27 per cent of the town’s population lives below the poverty line - 19 per centage points above the national average on the social deprivation indices, he said.
A recent survey by Marketing Sciences found one in ten people in the South East of England had skipped meals to feed their family or relied on family or friends for food in the last year.
Mr Richards said: “It’s crisis management rather than a long term management right now.
“People are being left with the choice do they pay for electricity or gas or food.
“This Christmas will be tough for many local people so we are delighted to be part of Tesco’s appeal. We’re hoping that many local people will donate at a Tesco store to help stop people going hungry in the Hailsham area this Christmas.”
The foodbank relies on donations from churches, schools, supermarkets and individuals to prepare food boxes for the area’s most desperate people.
It only accepts referrals from third party agencies such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux.
The Marketing Sciences research found around 10 per cent of people in the South East have suffered from some form of food poverty in the last 12 months, with six per cent of people skipping meals and seven per cent relying on friends or family to provide food.
Philip Clarke, chief executive of Tesco said: “Tesco feeds more families in the UK than any other supermarket, and we work hard to make sure people can eat well even if they don’t have a lot of money. This Christmas, we want to use our scale and our links with communities across the country to help tackle this growing problem.
“We recently held some local food collections and were overwhelmed by the support from our customers, who have shown incredible generosity. I hope they’ll support the biggest ever food collection in the UK and help us to feed hundreds of thousands of people in need.”