BENDIGO Foodshare is asking people to help families struggling during the Christmas period by donating staple foods during November.
It comes after demand for food from the service rose across the year.
Bendigo Foodshare chair Cathie Steele said underemployment often drove this need, as people lacked money for discretionary items such as food.
Ms Steele said Christmas could be a hard time, with lots of agencies and schools that would normally give out food closed.
She said need for food support had increased across the region.
Foodshare supplied food to 12,400 people across the region in 2019, about 50 per cent more than the 8800 in 2018.
The service collects food to give to relief agencies and schools across central Victoria, who then distribute it to people in need.
Ms Steele said the Loddon Mallee had one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the state.
She said many people accessing Foodshare's support were underemployed, rather than unemployed.
Ms Steele said this meant more people without enough income to cover their costs.
"Rents are high, living costs are high, there's a lot of costs you can't avoid nowadays. Particularly if you've got kids in school," Ms Steele said.
"It gets harder and harder for people to have money for discretionary items like food."
Ms Steele said Foodshare often struggled to get enough staple foods with long shelf lives.
Items like tinned tuna, canned fruit and vegetables, cereals, rice, pasta or cooking oil were among these.
"We collect around town from supermarkets and shops and businesses. Usually the longer shelf life food can be sold. So the fresh food we get a lot more of, because it goes off very quickly, so they turn it over more quickly," Ms Steele said.
"We don't have any food producers that manufacture that type of food around town. It's not like we can go to a food producer and say can you give us the spare?"
Ms Steele said Foodshare needed to distribute the food by mid-December.
Donate at any local Bendigo Bank branch, Goodstart Early Learning Centres, Bendigo Telco or at the Bendigo Foodshare Warehouse (open 8am-1pm, Monday to Thursday).
Food drive open until November 30.
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