One in four battlers say they cannot afford at least one substantial meal a day as they struggle to make ends meet.
The Salvation Army's annual national survey on disadvantage paints a bleak picture for those living on the margins of society as they are weighed down by difficulty finding work, rising rents and utility bills, inadequate welfare payments and poor health or disability.
And the charity warns poverty is going to get worse after last week's Federal Budget.
"Once a family is entrenched in poverty, it can be very difficult to get them out," Salvation Army WA divisional communications and fundraising secretary Warren Palmer said.
The Salvation Army has set a goal of raising $10 million from this weekend's annual Red Shield Appeal doorknock.
Balcatta single mother Nikki Rodd, 22, is battling to stay afloat.
She was a childcare worker before her pregnancy but is unemployed and despite applying for countless jobs, keeps getting knocked back.
Ms Rodd gets just under $1000 a fortnight in benefits, with three-quarters of that swallowed up by rent, leaving little left over.
It was only because of the help of the Salvation Army, Victory Life Church and family that she was able to put food on the table for herself and son Cody, 2.
"It's pretty tough and scary," she said of living fortnight to fortnight. "My son gets what he needs. We have a roof over our head and food in the fridge, but it is a struggle to pay the bills."