Ipswich Foodbarn managing director Qim Kauwhata.
Ipswich Foodbarn managing director Qim Kauwhata.

Foodbarn working with council to find a solution for closure

A VITAL charity which provides food for thousands of hungry residents is working closely with Ipswich City Council so normal service can resume as soon as possible.

Ipswich Foodbarn, which distributes hampers and produce out of a warehouse in Woodend, has been severely hamstrung since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has played havoc with the charity's efforts to keep giving away food and new ways of operating have not proven successful.

A drive-through system was trialled but did not work out.

There are more than 18,000 clients on the books and a sharp increase in demand for its services since the start of the health crisis.

Cars lined up Darling St, blocking traffic and impacting nearby businesses.

Managing director Qim Kauwhata decided to close things down until issues could be worked out.

"Our clients were impeding on local businesses and the streets and the traffic," she said.

"It was either come up to regulation with council or there's a chance of fines.

"It was easier for us to close until we can work it out."

The Foodbarn trialled handing out hampers from the back of its building on West St today, where produce is usually distributed.

"We've got way too much food to keep it locked in the building," Ms Kauwhata said.

"We want to see if it will go off without a hitch and any complaints. That's our biggest concern now.

"If it doesn't work out then we will probably have to go and send food off-site and wait it out until (there's a resolution)."

A council spokesman said council officers are working with the charity to assist with traffic management.

"Officers from various departments within council are working with Foodbarn administrators so that the business operates as effectively as possible to distribute hampers to those in need," he said.

"Council officers responded to a complaint regarding non-compliant traffic management arrangements … involving use of traffic cones, which were being used to direct traffic through the Foodbarn premises.

"Those officers provided some advice which would ensure the charity was compliant with parking and traffic regulations."

The spokesman said the council has not issued any infringement or enforcement notice in relation to these issues.

"Council officers are continuing to review existing traffic and parking arrangements, including meetings with the business to improve operations," he said.

"Ipswich City Council is extremely supportive of Foodbarn and the work being done to help the community in this heightened time of need.

"Our priority is to ensure this work continues in a safe environment."