The Border's largest emergency food rescue and relief charity has warned we are yet to see the real picture of poverty caused by COVID-19.
The chief of Albury-Wodonga Regional FoodShare says the organisation is bracing itself for "when that mask comes off" and an increasing number of households are plunged into economic hardship.
Board chairman Simon Welsh, a Wodonga business consultant, says the Federal Government's JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments have put an artificial cap on emergency food relief.
"These payments have meant that people have been given enough money to be able to buy food from supermarkets," he said.
"(When COVID-19 first struck) we initially saw a spike in demand for food and that has since stabilised but at a higher level.
"When JobKeeper and JobSeeker are scaled back this will reveal the extent of underlying poverty, and economic insecurity, as a result of COVID-19."
Based on ABS and current government figures as well as local business calculations, Mr Welsh says unemployment and under-employment in Wodonga is sitting at 40 per cent.
"It will be a situation where people who haven't previously accessed food relief will need help for the first time," Mr Welsh predicts.
"Some people may be reluctant and feel ashamed to ask for help or don't know where to go.
"Our colleagues at Bendigo report they are now getting referrals from financial advisors; not just from their usual agency partners.
"These advisors are seeing the predicament of their clients and directing them to places like FoodShare."
Albury-Wodonga Regional FoodShare last month received a significant injection of funds to help it meet the increased demands expected from COVID-19 and to continue to support bushfire-affected communities.
FoodShare received $50,000 from Regional Development Victoria under its Living Regions Living Suburbs program, $110,000 from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal fund as well as several generous donations from private individuals.
The organisation is extremely grateful for the support and particularly funding that "acknowledges the stress bushfire-affected communities are still under", according to Mr Welsh.
"People in these communities need to know they haven't been forgotten in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis," he says.
Part of the funding will also be used to streamline and improve access to food with a major initiative to be announced in coming weeks.
"We will use this money for strategies to get food to everyone in the community who needs it," Mr Welsh says.
He added that the continued financial support of FoodShare by individuals in the community was a huge endorsement of the work of the dedicated team.
"I think once people understand that we can achieve so much for so little, we have supporters for life," Mr Welsh says proudly.