BENDIGO experts are uniting behind an innovative "sprint" to solve food insecurity issues that are reaching crisis levels.
The pandemic has been pushing more people to the brink and support agencies have been reporting many have been going without meals to help make ends meet.
The problems are exacerbating trends charities have been seeing for years, La Trobe University expert Brad Hodge said.
"Sometimes we just need to take a few steps back from the challenge in order to really understand it," he said.
The university is partnering with the City of Greater Bendigo to bring together some of the municipality's brightest minds over four days later in November to help find innovative solutions, Dr Hodge said.
They will include primary producers, manufacturers, retailers, health and community service providers, people who have experienced food insecurity and educators.
Council staff and students from La Trobe will also participate.
Dr Hodge will lead the "Innovation Sprint" and said it would help Bendigo solve its own challenge.
"This is the first of a number of innovation sprints," he said.
"Future work will explore a range of innovation opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of the Greater Bendigo community.
"The Innovation Sprint is about understanding the complexities of Greater Bendigo's need for food relief and healthy eating, then taking a creative problem-solving approach to generate and test ideas that might revolutionise the way that we engage with this challenge."
Solutions cannot come soon enough, some working on the front line have been warning.
Bendigo Foodshare manager Bridget Bentley recently said she was seeing more people who had never needed help approaching her service.
"That is because of the financial pressures people have been facing not only with the lockdowns but also people having to isolate," she said.
"That puts pressure on people to get and fund food immediately."
The Innovative Sprint will take place between November 15 and November 18.
It is being run thanks to funding from VicHealth and delivered with the help of Healthy Greater Bendigo.
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