The Society of St Vincent de Paul says there's been a dramatic rise in numbers seeking help, with an extra €10m being spent already this year.
The charity has spent a total of €40m so far in 2013, up from around €30m during the whole of last year.
The society's national vice-president Tom McSweeney said they are launching their annual appeal today in the run up to their busiest time at Christmas.
He said demand will start to pick up in the next few weeks.
"All of our volunteers - 11,000-plus around the country - will be gearing up for it because this time of year becomes very stressful for families," Mr McSweeney said.
"Every family wants to have a happy Christmas, a good Christmas.
"Our problem this year, as we see it, is that the family circle is bent (and) broken in many places and there are those families who will be sitting at home this Christmas wondering will they have a home come the New Year because their pressures are so great."
The St Vincent de Paul appeal comes as figures are released showing half a million Irish people are affected by food poverty.
Healthy Food for All says 10% of people cannot afford or access healthy food.
The group is calling for a national food strategy to help tackle the issue of food poverty.