Spaniards are being called on to supply food parcels to their poverty-stricken counterparts as the nation's economic crisis continues to bite.

Spain's Red Cross today launches a drastic appeal for €30 million - a move which in recent years has been reserved for helping famine-hit African nations and earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

It is the first time the agency's annual campaign has focused solely on aiding people in its own country and will see essential food supplies handed out to
2.3 million 'extremely vulnerable' citizens over the next two years.

Recession: Unemployed men and women queue up at a job center in Madrid as the Spanish Red Cross announces its first drive for donations to aid the country's own population

The figure of those in need has already risen dramatically - from 1.5 million in 2010 to 2 million in 2011.

Families are being called on to donate money, as part of the Red Cross's annual Dia de la Banderita (Little Flag Day) fundraising day, for the food parcels.

Pasta, rice, olive oil, vegetables and canned fish will be delivered to children living below the poverty-line, pensioners, the homeless and the long-term jobless.

An advert to be broadcast on national television will show a family - a father, son and daughter - sharing an omelette made from a single egg. A Red Cross food parcel arrives and their mood lifts.

Austerity: Protestors demonstrating against cuts earlier this year in Spain where 2.3 million are now considered 'extremely vulnerable' and in need of Red Cross help

With one-in-four Spaniards unemployed and the country in its second recession in three years, Red Cross director José Javier Sánchez Espinosa echoed the appeal's slogan by saying the money was needed 'Now More Than Ever'.

He said:
'We have observed that there has been a serious deterioration in the social situation. Because of that, for the first time, we ask for support in helping the Spanish population.'
He added that, last year, of the two million helped by the agency's social programme, a disturbing 1.7 million were living below the poverty line, earning less than €627,78 per month.

Downturn: Jobseekers of all ages queue to sign on at a Malaga jobcentre in a nation where 1.7 million were estimated to live under the poverty line last year

A staggering 864,000 could not afford to heat their homes in the winter, and 524,000 did not eat a meal with protein in it more than three times per week.

It comes in the same week the International Monetary Fund said Spain would miss its deficit targets in 2012 and 2013 because of a much bigger economic contraction than had been forecast.

The IMF said Spain's economy would contract by 1.3 per cent next year, compared to a government forecast of 0.5 per cent.

This would see the country's deficit spiralling to 7 per cent of GDP in 2012 and 5.7 per cent in 2013 - significantly higher than the EU-agreed targets of 6.3 per cent and 4.5 per cent.