For residents living on or below the poverty line, eating regular meals can be difficult.
For the past decade Bega's St John's Anglican Church has hosted a social cafe called Ricky's Place offering a free meal to residents, and the Sapphire Community Pantry, which provides low-cost food is growing in popularity.
It can be transforming for a lot of people.Volunteer cook Peter Burgess
One homeless man who visits the church for regular meals said many people in the region are struggling to put regular meals in their stomach.
"I get to connect with people, like-minded people, and have food with people who are struggling but just want a good life," he said.
"People are getting pushed down by society."
According to the Australian Council of Social Service's Poverty in Australia 2018 report found over three million Australians are living below the poverty line, including almost one in five children.
The report defines the poverty line in Australia as an income of $433 per week for a single adult living alone, and $909 per week for a couple with two children.
According to the most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data, at least 36.5 per cent of residents earn up to $499 per week, and 5.5 per cent earn nothing at all.
South East Women's and Children's Service regional manager Caroline Long said recently many "traditional" families can no longer afford rent.
Ricky's Place founder Ross Williams OAM said since the cafe's beginnings a decade ago, similar cafes have opened in Narooma, Pambula and Cooma. He said demand is so high, volunteer cooks are always in need.
"It is unique, it was never meant to be just a soup kitchen, it has a special motto of 'dining with dignity'," Mr Willams said.
Cook of four years, and Tulgeen Disability Service's board member, Peter Burgess said since his retirement from a demanding public service job in the nation's capital, he now has time to give back to the community.
"It allows people to find a safe place to come and be accepted into society," he said.
"You can see the looks on their faces about how grateful they are. It's just the best feeling.
"It can be transforming for a lot of people."
Anglican reverend captain Stuart Haynes said he has seen people's self confidence grow from a warm meal and conversation.
"It renews their faith in society. Their character has even changed," he said.
"People can shun people very quickly in our society. They judge by how they look."
He said many people who come for a meal have experienced some kind of trauma, and meals have become "a time for healing".
"Some of the stories you hear here you wouldn't believe. They are gobsmacking," he said.
"Every community needs a safety net.
"We should embrace everyone, no matter who they are."