Secours Catholique, which provides the bulk of France’s food aid, helped 1.43 million people living in poverty last year, according top its annual report.
The poor in France have historically been single men and single mothers – 31 per cent of families that receive aid from the charity are single mothers, whereas they make up only eight per cent of French households.
They are still the most poor, but increasingly, because of the economic crisis, the charity is seeing more families with children.
In France you live under the poverty line if you earn less than 977 euros a month.
The charity says most of its beneficiaries earn less than half that amount.
About one out of six have no income at all and nearly half receive some kind of welfare.
And yet, according to the French statistics institute, Insee, the number of families living under the poverty line is still less than at the end of the 1990s.
In 1996 nearly 30 per cent of families with three children were poor. The proportion has gone down to under 20 per cent today.