Maitlanders dug deep to help the vulnerable on Friday with $600 donated by noon.
Slow Food Hunter Valley's Amorelle Dempster was overwhelmed with the result, saying residents had jumped to help as soon as they read The Mercury's article.
The funds will join $750 from Slow Food's online appeal and be used to help make 65 welfare bags next week.
A donation of bay leaves and rosemary will also be included in the bags.
"I wanted to burst into tears every time someone handed me some money," she said.
"In this strict lockdown it is harder to help others so this is a way people can make a difference and they feel satisfied that they are helping people who really need it.
"We are so grateful to our community and we hope they will continue to support this project."
The rising call for help from the city's most vulnerable has Slow Food Hunter Valley volunteers packing vegetables as fast as they can.
They started making 35 welfare bags last week which are filled with fresh vegetables and eggs from nearby farms.
This week they had a request for 55 bags and they can see that the demand is going to continue to grow.
"We worked out that it would cost us about $1500 a week if we paid the farmers the true value of what they have given us," Amorelle Dempster said.
"We have been buying some of the produce from the farmers and they have been donating a lot of it as well, but obviously we can't expect them to keep doing that at the same rate they are now."
The group has put out the call for monetary and fresh food donations to help keep this important project going.
"Times are tough right now. We are hoping people in the community will donate to this worthy cause, if they can, like they did when we did the drought boxes for Upper Hunter farmers," Ms Dempster said.
"We are also hoping people will donate their excess produce - do they have lemons on the tree they could donate or mandarins or oranges, or even excess produce in their vegetable garden that they could donate?"
Each welfare bag has about $30 worth of value. It includes enough vegetables to feed a family for 3-4 days. If they added pantry staples like rice and pasta they would be able to make it last even longer.
The bags have been given to groups in Rutherford, Woodberry and Maitland who are distributing them to the people who need it the most.
Telarah-Rutherford Anglican Church and the Salvation Army are among the groups who are connecting the vulnerable with the fresh food bags.
"This is a bigger problem than I ever imagined it would be, when people are hungry they are hungry and we need to help them," Ms Dempster said.
"The need is coming from people who don't normally access welfare, some of them are single parents stuck at home with small children.
"The people who need this help don't have the disposable income that a lot of us do and are looking for agencies to support them at this challenging time.
"A woman rang yesterday asking if we could help and when I asked about the circumstances she started crying - people are really struggling with their circumstances at the moment."
How you can help:
Drop off excess produce at Readers Cafe and Larder Monday to Friday, 9am to 12 noon. Note: The bags are packed on Tuesday mornings.