A WARRNAMBOOL food charity will grow to service most of south-west Victoria thanks to a state government investment.
In partnership with Foodbank Victoria, the government has given $3.5 million to create five "food hubs" in regional Victoria, including in the south-west.
The money will expand the Warrnambool and District Food Share region-wide to serve five municipal areas including Warrnambool, Corangamite, Moyne, Glenelg and Southern Grampians shires.
Warrnambool and District Food Share executive officer Dedy Friebe said the charity was already servicing Portland, Heywood and Hamilton but the funding meant "reaching out to all the places in between".
"It will enable us to service not only major centres in our region but also the smaller centres," Mr Friebe said.
"It's a significant step in making sure that foodshare's sustainability and capacity to serve the community are enhanced."
He said it was unclear yet exactly how much funding the service would receive. Mr Friebe said the charity had also applied for $60,000 to upgrade its facility.
"The hub will also bring another bucket of money for storage, infrastructure needs, volunteer training and so on," he said.
One new staff member has joined the workforce in anticipation of growing demand.
"As the demands of the service come we will add more volunteer help and staffing as necessary," Mr Friebe said.
"We will continue our current method of operation; working through agencies and services within the communities, both municipal offices, churches and schools within the five shires."
Mr Friebe said the recognition was thanks to the organisation's board, volunteers and the community's support since the charity formed in 2011.
"It's a real feather in the community's cap that they can acknowledge food share has the capacity now to expand its service ability," he said.
Demand for the service has grown every year since 2014, Mr Friebe said, with more than 281,000 meals going to more than 80,000 people in the past six years.
In 2020 it served 50,000 meals, 4000 more than the year before.
Victorian Disability, Ageing and Carers Minister Luke Donnellan said the government was boosting resources for community based food relief services.
"Our new regional hubs will help ensure better food relief coordination across the state so everyone has what they need," Mr Donnellan said.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.