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

Foodbarn shuts up shop due to overwhelming demand

AN Ipswich charity providing free food to hungry families has had to halt operations after being overwhelmed while trying to continue its crucial service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ipswich Foodbarn usually welcomes people into its Woodend warehouse to collect food hampers but it trialled a drive-through system so it could maintain social distancing.

It resulted in cars lined up Darling St and parked across driveways, angering neighbouring businesses.

There are about 18,000 people on the books, with an extra 300 clients signing up in the past month.

That kind of increase is usually only seen over a six-month period.

Managing director Qim Kauwhata said the decision was made to shut things down until a solution is found.

"Unfortunately we do have 92 pallets in the building with fresh produce we can't bring out," she said.

"I wasn't expecting to be in this predicament. Six months ago we were running out of food.

"We didn't realise there'd be such an increase in people and we just didn't have the manpower to control the traffic. It went insane."

Ms Kauwhata hopes to open up later this afternoon and tomorrow to try and get as much of the stock to those who need it as soon as possible while the streets are quieter.

She will discuss the next move with police and charity directors.

Deliveries could be a potential solution but there are still plenty of issues to iron out.

The Foodbarn had been trying to obtain three or four refrigerated vans or refrigerated trailers to do so.

"We've got people that want to lend vehicles but we're still waiting on manpower and who is going to foot the bill," she said.

"If it comes to a point to have to pay to get food out, it'd be easier shut down.

"It's a nightmare at the moment. At this stage, I really don't know what we have to do.

"I have come to a point where I just don't know how we are doing to deal with the problems we face."

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