There was an eruption of joy and a standing ovation when Lynne Graham accepted the citizen of the year title.
The founder of Wagga's care-van service, Ms Graham and her team of volunteers have provided more than 3500 hot meals to the city's most vulnerable people since February last year.
Ms Graham has been able to feed more than 150 people each week for the past two years through her CBD-based community kitchen.
Following the announcement at the annual ceremony on Friday night, Ms Graham took the opportunity to call for others to take up the cause in caring for others.
"It's easier to care than to turn away, so I encourage you all to care," she said.
"If you're a volunteer in any way, please continue doing what you do best, what we all do best when we reach out to one another who are in need.
"When we care for them and love them, we show them they have value in our community."
Thanking her financial backers at Wagga Baptist Church, Ms Graham sought to bring attention to the plight of Wagga's 'invisible people'.
"We have a large number of people in our city sleeping rough, some are desperately homeless. We don't see them very often, but they see us," she said.
Ms Graham spoke of the power of a home-cooked meal to create social collegiality in times of need.
"We started off with a bit of an idea of 'us' and 'them' two-and-a-half years ago," she said. "Now we have become 'we'. We are a family, we all have belonging and an appreciation of being known by name."
The city's other awards honoured the contributions of its best volunteers, sportspeople and environmental advocates.
This year's inductee to the walk of honour was John Mason. The award recognises Mr Mason's hours of selfless work in re-building a family home in The Rock so that the two disabled children could have their own bedrooms.
"I could not have done any of the things people say I've done without the great volunteer work that goes on at the South Wagga Rotary Club and at the men's shed," Mr Mason said.
The young citizen of the year was awarded to 17-year-old Meghan Graham for her contribution to many of the city's well-established charities and events.
"I came as a bit of a surprise to me, I came back from a trip for my Duke of Edinburgh Award and a friend called me up to say she had nominated me," Meghan said.
"I just said 'what?' But I'm just really thankful and I absolutely love the Wagga community and the opportunities there are in this city to serve."
The Ted Ryder Memorial Sports Award was received by Geoffrey Jacobson.
Due to Mr Jacobson's battle with dementia, he was unable to take the stage to receive the award. Instead, it was accepted on his behalf by wife of 33 years, Louise Jacobson.
"He has always been happy to work behind-the-scenes diligently to make things work, and that is what this award is about," Ms Jacobson said.
"That's why I nominated my husband. I know what a wonderful man he is and I wanted you all to know as well."
ErinEarth educator and scientist Ben Holt received the environmental citizen of the year award, after the category was added this year.
Over the past two years, Mr Holt has been developing a website and range of teaching apparatus to inform high school geography students about the effects of climate change.
"I feel I have a great privilege to work in the environment sector, one of the reason is that every ounce of energy I put in not only improves our environment, but improves the lifestyle of everyone in our area," Mr Holt said.
"I don't think there are many jobs where you can get that kind of satisfaction."