More people are going hungry in the Illawarra than ever, as the latest COVID-19 lockdown limits affects local businesses and employees.
A St Vincent de Paul spokesperson said generally 45-60 per cent of people who approach the service for help are in need of food.
That number jumped to 68 per cent in the Illawarra last year, and 73 per cent this year.
Many people who have not had to seek help from charities before are uncomfortable asking, and community organisations have stepped in to try and help bridge the gap.
Kylie Flament is the general manager of Illawarra-based social enterprise Green Connect.
Last month they began providing fruit and vegetable boxes for people in need - since then they've had 625 requests for help.
"When it started we thought we would do something kind for a couple of local people, but we've been inundated with requests from people in really tough situations," Ms Flament said.
"There are single mums who've lost shifts choosing between food and heating; single parents who can't go shopping because they can't take the kids, but can't get anyone to care for them."
Green Connect is working in partnership with Food Bank and Need a Feed, and are also providing care packages for families in need of clothes, blankets or just some entertainment for housebound kids.
Ms Flament encouraged anyone in a position to give to do so.
"A lot of the time because we are all sitting at home we don't realise our friends and family are struggling," she said.
"People who have never had to reach out before often don't want friends and family to know how bad things have gotten.
"We don't ask questions - if you need help, just ask, and if you are in a position to donate we would really appreciate it."
Thrive Early Learning Centre in Coniston has established a community pantry to help people who may not feel ready to ask for help.
Operations leader Donna Mitrana said the pantry was stocked by the children each morning with a variety of foods,
"We were mindful that with COVID we might have families in need who have lost work, as well as members in the community without a home, so we wanted foods that can be used by everyone," she said.
"The kids get very excited to go and see if someone has taken the food, and you can see them begin to understand that we're all in different situations and that's ok."
The pantry is located outside the centre and is available to anyone in need at all times.
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