Bendigo Foodshare is asking residents to open their cupboards and their hearts to make sure people don't go hungry this festive season.
Chair Cathie Steele said over the Christmas period a lot of the organisations the group relies on to distribute food take a break.
"We are going to give food out in November and early December and we are looking for food with a long shelf life, such as cereal, pasta, cans of tuna, tins of fruit and vegetables," she said.
Ms Steele said the demand for emergency food had risen sharply in the Bendigo area.
"In 2018 our agencies were giving food to 8, 800 people per week. This year that number has risen to 12,400."
Recent statistics show that more than 25,000 people in the Bendigo region are living close to or below the poverty line, putting them at serious risk of food insecurity and hunger.
"The Loddon Valley has the worst statistics in Victoria and some of the shires around Bendigo, and even in central Bendigo, it's really worrying."
She said the city had the highest youth unemployment in the State with many young people living below the poverty line.
For older residents, underemployment was often the problem, where people may have some casual or part time work, but it wasn't enough to cover rent, food and bills each week.
Bendigo Foodshare has kicked-off the month-long effort to fight hunger in Central Victoria.
The organisation concentrates on delivering donated, surplus and rescued food to where it's needed most.
"We're seeing food distress affecting an increasing number of people who aren't unable to afford healthy food despite working or as a result of a temporary financial stress or unforeseen emergency," said Ms Steele.
We're seeing food distress affecting an increasing number of peopleCathie Steele, Bendigo Foodshare
"December and January can be particularly hard with the stress of Christmas and school holidays, as well as increased utility costs and unexpected bills.
"We recently increased our food collection service to seven-days per week, which has dramatically increased our supplies of fresh produce and bread. We still need to stock up on canned and long-life foods before the Christmas and school holiday period.
"Staple food items can be hard to come by due to their long-lasting nature and universal popularity, which means our supermarket supporters don't have a great deal of surplus stock to donate."
For that reason, Bendigo Foodshare is encouraging the community to support their own by donating long-life and canned foods during November.
"All food collected will be given out to people in need via local schools and charities.
"Our most needed essential food items, include pasta, rice and grains, cooking oil, ready-made meal bases, canned vegetables, breakfast cereals, tinned fruit, jam, peanut butter and Vegemite, flour and sugar, UHT milk, coffee, tea and Milo, tinned meat and fish.
People can drop off donations at one of 15 collection stations across the city, including local Bendigo Bank branches, Goodstart Early Learning Centres and Bendigo Telco during November.