Migrants staying in hotels are turning to food banks because meals provided are unhealthy, a charity said.
Maria Wilby, director of Refugee Action – Colchester, said people were being given food that was "not appropriate".
About 650 asylum seekers and migrants are currently staying in seven hotels in Essex, the BBC understands.
Clearsprings Ready Homes, which runs a contract for the Essex hotels, said meals were "nutritionally assessed" and met "dietary requirements."
The Home Office said the use of the hotels was a "short-term solution".
"They are being served food that is absolutely not appropriate to their diet," said Ms Wilby.
"They're begging. They're desperate. They're asking for help on the street outside the hotels.
"They're reaching to every possible Citizens Advice bureau, every possible food bank agency they can find in their area."
Seven organisations in the county told BBC Essex they had supported migrants using food banks.
Andy Thornton, chief executive officer at the Michael Roberts Charitable Trust, which runs a food bank in Harlow, said six migrant families had purchased a daily low-cost package from them.
He said it does "not put too much pressure on our resources", adding: "Our heart goes out to them. Each one of them looks seriously worried for their families."
An Iranian man, who the BBC is only referring to by his nickname, Kiro, left a hotel four months ago and has now been granted asylum.
"This is not healthy food, it is not enough food and it is not good food," said the 38-year-old, who said he paid £2,000 so that he could cross the channel by small boat.
More than 40,000 people crossed the Channel to the UK in small boats in 2022 – a record figure.
Asylum seekers are provided three daily meals and a weekly £8.24 allowance to cover basic essentials, such as clothes and medicine.
A Refugee Council report in July concluded "hotel accommodation is increasingly damaging people's health" and that the maximum stay should be 35 days.
"You don't have anything to do, you are not allowed [a work] permit, anything, and it's been like, boring. You are getting stressed, you are getting depression," said Kiro, who is now in a shared house paid for by the Home Office.
The Home Office said there were "more than 37,000 asylum seekers in hotels, costing the UK taxpayer £5.6m a day" and putting the system "under incredible strain".
A spokeswoman said: "The use of hotels is a short-term solution and we are working hard with local authorities to find appropriate accommodation."
The Home Office contract run by Clearsprings Ready Homes (CRH), based in Rayleigh, Essex, includes the provision of food.
In a statement, the company said: "CRH has been working tirelessly to secure extra accommodation to ease the pressure on the system and to meet contractual obligations to accommodate asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute.
"CRH continues to work closely with charities, local authorities, police and other partners to ensure that the sites operate safely, securely and in line with public health guidelines. This would include access to medical services upon request by service users themselves.
"The hotel in question is run as a full board site with three meals provided per day. We also provide a selection of fresh fruit and cultural snacks which are available 24/7.
"All meals are nutritionally assessed as well as meeting any dietary requirements including, but not limited to Halal, vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, gluten free as well as any medical dietary needs such as diabetes and low sodium.
"Meal times can also be adjusted to meet the needs of residents, for example during Ramadan.
"Meeting the culinary desires of such a wide range of backgrounds all the time is challenging. However, we make every effort to try and resolve any issues and provide a varied and wholesome menu for everyone."
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