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PEOPLE who have full-time jobs are increasingly presenting at emergency food relief agencies in crisis, says the Bendigo Salvation Army.
Manager of emergency relief Sharon Crimmins said the past 12 months had involved a steady increase in the number of "working poor" unable to afford groceries.
"We have seen an increase in people who work but who just can't afford to make ends meet on certain weeks of the year, maybe when more bills come in," she said.
"It might be the week when the car loan's due.
"It's just the cost of living now."
Ms Crimmins said the first three months of the year were often the hardest for families, who had to pay for school uniforms, excursions and computer rental fees.
"There's no choice around that - it's mandatory," she said. "People are just recovering from Christmas."
Ms Crimmins said most families were not repeat clients, with the vast majority only coming during a one-off emergency.
"There's an assumption people don't budget well," she said.
"Generally people manage quite well.
"We don't have a lot of people who come here week after week."
She said the majority of clients in full-time jobs worked in lower paying industries, including retail.
The revelation comes after Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters called for a roundtable discussion about hidden poverty in the region, in the lead up to Anti-Poverty week from October 12 to 18.
"The statistic that I am always talking about is roughly 30 per cent of households in Bendigo survive on less than $600 a week," Ms Chesters said.
"When you take into account the cost of basics such as rent, food and transport it doesn't leave much left over.
"The minimum wage is not keeping pace with the cost of living and we have people who are either under-employed or have insecure work."
A series of articles in the Bendigo Advertiser will highlight the extent of the region's poverty problem in coming weeks.