The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, has said the government must make a "long-term commitment" to making sure Universal Credit would allow recipients to feed themselves and their families properly.
It comes as the system faces criticism from across the political spectrum over accusations that its payment system leaves claimants facing weeks without money and forcing them into "crippling debt".
More than 30 Anglican bishops have backed an End Hunger UK campaign calling for the government to "fix" Universal Credit, with more help and flexibility for new and existing claimants.
Bishop Paul, the Church lead on welfare issues, said: "We need urgent action to improve the flexibility and support for people on Universal Credit, and a long-term commitment that the social security system will provide enough income for them to afford to feed themselves and their families properly.
"Without such action, we can expect to see more and more people turning to food banks and becoming trapped in poverty.
"The problems we are seeing with Universal Credit at church-run food banks across the country must be resolved before many more people are moved on to the new benefit."
More than 90% of churches support a food bank and almost one in five (19%) run one, either directly or in partnership with another organisation.
The bishop's intervention came as it was claimed that the Department of Work and Pensions was considering making changes to provide more help to new claimants.