The Salvation Army in Whangārei is increasingly helping struggling families with more complex needs apart from giving them food parcels each week.

Those needs require more money and the Army is requesting public donations during its Red Shield Appeal that kicked off this week throughout New Zealand.

The Army is supporting 120,000 people throughout the country, or one in every four New Zealanders, meet their basic needs such as food and temporary housing.

Salvation Army Whangārei community ministries team leader Marlene Bowers said her staff and volunteers were seeing between eight and 25 families daily that had other needs apart from food.

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That number sometimes exceeded 25, she said.

"Being able to help people with food allows us to deal with complex issues such as financial help, dealing with trauma within the family, mental wellbeing due to a lack of jobs, relationship breakdowns.

"Housing is another complex need that we don't know until people front up for something as simple as food."

The Salvation Army is facing yet another year of high demand and is pleading for support to help crowds of people frontline staff see every day.

It says the answer to ending poverty lies in providing more families with valuable life skills.

Bowers said public donations would benefit everyone who came through the door for a food parcel with long-term help like budgeting sessions, social work or counselling.

She said money people spent at the Salvation Army shops in town was ploughed back into essential services such as the foodbank.

A standard family food parcel costs between $120 and $140 depending on the number of children.

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In January, a Whangārei couple in their 70s donated $1000 towards the Salvation Army foodbank and urged others to follow suit.

Donations can be made online at salvationarmy.org.nz/redshield or given to a Salvation Army street collector between April 29 and May 5.