Food banks are having to buy groceries at high prices because donations fail to meet demand from families in need.
The Trussell Trust said 13% of food in emergency parcels was bought, whereas before the pandemic it was all donated.
Donations do not always match their most-needed items meaning charities have to buy more to cover shortages.
But new software may be helping solve this problem, by telling people exactly which groceries and toiletries are running low in their local food bank.
Paul McMurray, from North Shields, has created Donation Genie – a website that displays the items that are most needed at each specific food bank across the UK.
Visitors to the site can enter a postcode or area and it will show the four nearest food banks and which items they are in most need of.
McMurray, a software engineer at Accenture used days offered by his company to do charity work to develop the idea.
“We want to use the simplicity of technology and kindness of people, then join them together to direct the right food to the right people.”
That could lead to “less hunger, less waste, and less food poverty”, he said.