Speak Out: Cafeterias or Food Trucks for Public Safety Officers?

The new Public Safety Headquarters in Gaithersburg needs a way to feed its residents. Should Montgomery County cops and firefighters be served from food trucks or cafeterias?


Montgomery County public safety offices are scheduled to move in May to the new public safety headquarters in Gaithersburg—but there's one more big issue to work out.

What will our public safety officers eat?

The brings the Montgomery County Police Department headquarters, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security, the First District Police Station and parts of the transportation department under one 408,000-square-foot roof.

The building at 100 Edison Park Dr. was formerly the National Geographic Society headquarters. At nearly 50 years old, its cafeteria facilities are inadequate for the county's needs, according to David Dise, director of the county's division of general services.

"It’s going to cost an awful lot over a longer period of time to renovate the entire building," Dise told the Montgomery County Council on Tuesday. While renovations to the cafeteria are being made, the county is looking into providing food trucks stationed at the site to feed personnel.

"My colleagues at Fire and Rescue have taken on that enthusiastic endeavor," Dise joked.

But as the council teased fire and rescue representatives over their culinary expertise, Councilmember Marc Elrich (D-At Large), of Takoma Park, suggested the county look at food trucks as a long-term solution, rather than as a middle ground between brown-bag lunches and a full-service cafeteria.

"I actually think this is a good long-term solution potentially," Elrich said. "People are actually looking at this as a serious way to provide a variety of food you can almost never replicate inside a cafeteria.”

He suggested it would also provide an outlet for small businesses in the county, cost less for the county to maintain and allow for more flexibility in how renovation funds are spent.

"Some of these guys put a ton of money in their trucks. They really are serious food production facilities," Elrich said. "I like this for a lot of different reasons, and I hope it proves to be one of those innovations we can look back and say this was a really good idea."

Councilmember Phil Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg thanked Elrich for his comments, and said the county would continue to look into options. 

What do you think? Are full-time food trucks at the new public safety headquarters a potentially innovative idea, or too over-the-top?


Dataslave April 23, 2012 at 05:57 PM
I'm sorry, al the food trucks I've seen are repulsive filthy vehicles not even fit to serve rats. I don't want an officer coming to my house (hopefully he won't need to) and having to use my bathroom or floor to vomit. but by that logic i've also seen some pretty filthy cafeterias, but if the cafeterias are gross then the county can just hire someone to clean it. But cafeterias seem like the better way to go personally :/
Cole W April 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM
@Coles_Palette A combination of food trucks and a cafeteria would be a suitable options. This allows for a competitive enviornment and multiple food options. Cafeterias are limited to daily specials and food trucks are limited to whatever their 'niche' might be, but combining the two is a win win for all! ColesPalette.com
Thomas Mercer April 26, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Really! Mighty fine new campus the county is using. Maybe they can fish for lunch in the huge lake in front of the building. If the firefighters are on the fireground they eat off the canteen truck. Maybe we can get the doughnut shop to relocate. Seriously, what do other businesses do? Many go out for lunch, bring their lunch or have food delivered. OMG The workers may have to brave the elements to get lunch. The real question is how much money is the county spending? Let the people in the food trucks sell to county workers. This just seems like more poor planning on the part of the county.
Todd Jasper May 25, 2012 at 11:52 AM
The food truck idea sounds good, but the needs of the Public Safety HQ are more than the food trucks can supply. Imagine the worst case scenario in which the region is responding to an act of terrorism. Roads may be closed and/or travel may be hazardous. If the food truck can't make it to HQ, then our firefighters, cops, EMS, and other support staff has to go hungry until they can find other food options. If your managing a food crisis at HQ, you're taking resources away from managing the incident. Let's not skimp on public safety on this one...
bill marshall May 31, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Why not just lease space to a resturant and let private industry do what it does best?


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