Tough economic times are forcing more Victorians to choose between heating or eating this winter.

Single dad Tom, who didn’t want to reveal his surname, volunteers at Food Bank Yarraville and receives food assistance through the charity.

“I’ve volunteered for about five years, first with Wingate Community Centre and now with Food Bank Yarraville,” he said.

“I used to drive a delivery van for a warehouse but got laid off two years ago. Being a single parent of a nine-year-old, the weekly shop [can set you back a lot of money]. They let me do my weekly grocery shopping at the Food Bank and it really helps.

“These days, especially being a single parent, you have to work – and if you don’t, then you have to make sacrifices for your family.”

He said the assistance from Food Bank was important.

“It means we can get a bit of meat and fresh produce each week to get by.”

Food Bank’s Warm Up Winter appeal is now running in a bid to raise $150,000 to help up to 6000 families in need.

Food Bank Yarraville spokeswoman Mikaela Figgis said the types of people using the service had changed in recent years.

“We used to get a large proportion of homeless people or people with mental health issues,” she said.

“But now we get mostly low-income or single-parent families.

“There’s been a shift in the demographic that’s struggling to make ends meet and asking for help.

“Working professionals are the highest- growing segment of people requiring assistance. We’re talking about the friendly neighbours living down the street who are being squeezed by higher bills, costs of living and putting their kids through school.

“Foodbank Victoria believes heat or eat is not a choice any family should have to make and is seeking support to raise funds for the 8600 Victorians currently going unassisted.”

A $25 donation can feed a family of four for a week, Ms Figgis said.

For more information and to donate, visit www.foodbankvictoria.org.au