A CAMPAIGN to support local hospitality businesses while raising money for Bendigo Foodshare will kick off this weekend.
Bendigo's Biggest Takeaway will see diners able to add a donation onto their meal with local restaurants who have joined the campaign.
More than 30 local hospitality businesses have signed up to take part.
Bendigo Foodshare manager Bridget Bentley said the not-for-profit organisation wanted a campaign that supported the local economy as well as raising money for Bendigo Foodshare.
"We're pretty excited about it," she said. "It came about because we, being a not-for-profit, rely on community and philanthropic support.
"Through COVID we had amazing support from the community and recruited 230 new volunteers and received food from the community and farmers.
"We were able to operate and continue to be an essential service through the community's support.
"This is just a small way of bringing back a little of what we all used to take for granted in the past. All while raising precious funds for our organisation to keep delivering tangible food solutions to people in need."
As restrictions eased, and hospitality venues were able to host more dine-in patrons, Bendigo Foodshare adapted the campaign to ensure diners who didn't want takeaway has the option of donating.
"With restrictions easing and our city opening up, we now have the choice about where we enjoy it, outside at the venue, in a park or on the couch," she said.
"Last week, it was amazing to have the surprise announcement of restrictions being lifted. As a result we tried to make the campaign easy to participate in.
"It means the event can be bigger and better and people have more options to how they support hospitality businesses and can still donate to Bendigo Foodshare."
Ms Bentley said people required some sort of food-based support has increased by 40 per cent since teh COVID-19 pandemic began.
"Those needing food relief support pre-COVID was at 12,875 each week in central Victoria," she said. "Now that number is above 16,700.
"There are record numbers of (government) benefits being paid in Bendigo, which will dramatically decrease at the end of September. Those doing okay will find themselves in a difficult situation. We're not out of the woods by any stretch."
Bendigo's Biggest Takeaway takes places from September 25 to 27. For more information, including a list of the restaurants, cafes and other food vendors taking part, visit www.bendigofoodshare.org.au/takeaway