SPECIMEN Hill Primary School is trialling a food pantry for the school community in an effort to tackle food insecurity.
With the help of Bendigo Foodshare, the school is making fresh foods and non-perishable essentials available to those in need.
The school previously provided food hampers to families it knew were struggling.
Assistant principal Jac Louttit said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need within the school community and prompted the school to think differently about how it made food available.
Instead of phoning to request a hamper, families are able to take what they need from the pantry when visiting the school.
“We’ve already seen families and students come through and get food who we didn’t know were struggling,” Ms Louttit said.
The pantry was bare within two days of Bendigo Foodshare’s delivery, last week.
Ms Louttit said she had had to order more stock from Foodshare.
The school is accepting donations of non-perishable goods for the pantry, which can be left at the Specimen Hill Primary School office.
The food pantry trial is in its early days, only having started at the beginning of the school year.
But Ms Louttit said the school might consider running both the food pantry and the food hampers, if there was a need.
Food insecurity was one of the most pressing health and wellbeing challenges the region faced before the COVID-19 pandemic.
A 2019 survey found one in 10 households in the Loddon Campaspe region did not have enough to eat.
One in five households in parts of the Bendigo area were struggling to put food on the table, the same survey found.
More than eight per cent of households in Golden Square, where Specimen Hill Primary School is based, had run out of food in the previous 12 months.
The percentage of households experiencing food insecurity in suburbs such as Long Gully, West Bendigo and Ironbark was higher than 18 per cent.