The Food Bank For New York estimates some 1.4 million people—mainly women, children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities—rely on soup kitchens and food pantries in America's largest city of 8.4 million.
"We have had to pump it up and work more with our corporate partners," said Purvis. In addition to donating food and money, more companies are getting involved more in alleviating the poverty that causes hunger in the first place. For example, Citi volunteers helped some of the hungry file their tax returns.
"We are doing more free taxes as more of the hungry are working," said Purvis. "We were able to get $88 million in refunds last year for the hungry."
Read MoreWall Street raises $26M for charity ... in one night
Delta Airlines is helping feed mouths in New York City through its South Bronx Initiative, she said. The airline chose to set up a pantry in the poor section after Purvis told executives of a couple of women who had walked with their children miles to the Food Bank's warehouse at Hunt's Point because a facility in their own neighborhood had closed in the recession. "The recession hit poor neighborhoods the hardest, and now Delta has made the South Bronx a jewel in our crown."
She also cited Bank of America, which created a project called Food Bank To Go. "They purchased the food and supplies, packaged it up and told us where to deliver it. For three days they had nearly 1,000 employees rolling up their sleeves and packing it up for Thanksgiving!" Purvis said.
"We want out partners to be part of the solution," she said, although the Food Bank still has corporate partners helping in traditional ways, such as paying for a certain amount of food or, like Target, donating food it cannot keep on its shelves because there might be a slight "ding" in the can or a ripped box.
Purvis said some executives are also donating publicly traded securities, such as stocks to Food Bank For New York City to gain tax advantages. Securities that have increased in value and have been owned for more than a year and a day can be directly transferred rather than selling them first in order to avoid paying capital gains tax.
Aiken said another issue is that people in need tend to buy the cheapest food possible, which is not necessarily the most nutritious. He said that about 25 percent of the meals his organization served last year, consisted of fruits and vegetables.
"We are rushing to get more," he said. "A lot of fruits and vegetables go unharvested, and we are working with farmers [to get more donated]."
New York's Purvis agreed, saying the food bank moved 18 million pounds of fresh produce last year, much of it donated by vendors at the Hunt's Point wholesale market in the Bronx.
"This is one of the biggest changes—this demand for fresh produce—which is usually unaffordable for poor families."