A new community kitchen is opening in Wollongong to feed hundreds of homeless people and families on the poverty line.
This week, Lighthouse Community in Gladstone Avenue put the finishing touches on a new $220,000 commercial kitchen, partly funded by a $44,000 grant from the NSW government.
The kitchen officially opens on Sunday.
Lighthouse Community senior leader Paul Bartlett said it was the latest step in a bigger vision.
"Our long-term goal is for this to become a community facility," Mr Bartlett said.
The ultimate goal is to have the community facility, near the railway station, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Mr Bartlett said the community kitchen started three years ago as a free barbecue on the street every Thursday.
It wasn't long before numbers swelled to about 60 people each time it opened for lunch.
"We realised that people weren't just coming for a feed, they loved the sense of community, friendship and laughter in the place," Mr Bartlett said.
"It's not just a soup kitchen, it's a beautiful two-course meal. We are really trying to give a sense of dignity and value to everyone who joins us for dinner."
Mr Bartlett said 1338 people were classified as homeless in the Illawarra, with about 10 per cent living on the streets at any one time.
According to an Anglicare report, 95 per cent of homeless people did not know where their next meal was coming from, and many of them were families with young children.