Several young foreigners were arrested after being caught taking expired food from a supermarket skip in Blenheim.
Police-dog handlers caught the six men, in their 20s, as they were breaking into locked rubbish bins at Pak 'n Save in Springlands.
Constable Andrew Holdaway, of Blenheim, said the dog handlers happened to be training nearby when they heard noises coming from behind the supermarket about 10.45pm on Wednesday.
The men were from China, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Pak 'n Save co-owner Andrea Boock said this was the first time anyone had broken into the food bins.
However, John's Kitchen convener Yvonne Dasler said more young men coming to Marlborough for seasonal work were finding they could not afford to eat.
She had seen young Europeans come into the community kitchen so hungry that they would rip off a chunk of bread from a loaf and start chewing it straight away. Some told her they had not eaten anything since the day before, she said.
Up to a fifth of John's Kitchen customers were not from New Zealand.
English people were the dominant foreign nationality followed by German, French and Swiss.
The increase in foreigners coming to John's Kitchen had been very noticeable in the past year, she said, and there had been an increase since summer started.
It was rare to see a foreign woman on her own visiting the kitchen, but some women would visit with their partners, Mrs Dasler said.
She believed many foreigners who came to New Zealand were used to getting paid at the end of each day for casual work. When they arrived in Marlborough, they had not budgeted on paying for accommodation upfront or not getting wages for up to two weeks.
Many came for summer and expected to get fruit-picking jobs, but the jobs were just starting, leaving the foreigners without an income when they first arrived.
Some foreigners were shocked when they found out Marlborough did not have an emergency accommodation shelter.
"I guess in their countries they have had these for a long time," Mrs Dasler said.
Stealing food was wrong, she said.
"This shouldn't happen," she said. "There is legitimate help available. They probably just don't know about it."
The men caught taking food from the supermarket skip were released with a pre-charge warning.