By 10 am Wednesday, Martha and Bruce Lorden had run out of eggs, sausages and hash browns. This was a problem. People were still lining up for breakfast at their food truck, Martha’s On A Roll.
Still, it was brilliantly sunny out, and having a food truck around in the first place was such a novel experience that most of them didn’t seem to mind. That’s because the VA Hospital in White River Junction has become the Upper Valley’s newest food-truck hotspot. Martha's On A Roll, which only debuted a few short months ago, was the inaugural you-don’t-have-to-eat-in-the-cafeteria experiment.
This is thanks to Scott Gagnon, who’s Chief of Veteran Canteen Services at the VA. “I wanted to bring a food truck on station,” he says. He ran it by the hospital’s leadership, who liked the idea. After working out the logistics of where they could put a food truck (which turned out to be pretty much directly across from the main entrance), he got in touch with Martha Lorden—he’d eaten her food before, and liked his interaction with her.
It turned out to be a popular idea. “We were inundated,” says Lorden. By lunchtime, they had 72 orders by text for their various paninis and melts—some of them coming in only ten minutes ahead of pickup time—and a line of walkups. She and her husband scrambled to meet the orders, but couldn’t manage them all. “Oh well,” she says. “The majority of our patrons were happy we were there, satisfied, and liked the food very much. But I understand the few grumpy responses.”
The folks at the VA didn’t seem to mind. “The employee response was very positive and a bit overwhelming!” Gagnon reports. “We are having Martha’s back next Wednesday and working on offering other days of the week as well. We want to keep the trucks local and support our local businesses.” Katherine Tang, the VA’s spokesperson, says they’ve been collecting feedback from veterans and employees about other food trucks they’d like to see. The hospital is planning to host different trucks on different days, “though probably not every day unless demand remains high,” she says.
In addition to the VA next Wednesday (and possibly other Wednesdays — “I’d love it if we were here every Wednesday,” says Lorden) you can find Martha’s On A Roll at Lebanon’s Rivermill complex from 8-3, by the Dartmouth Green on Sundays from 9-4, and at DHMC’s Heater Road facility on Tuesdays, 8-3.
And at some point soon, if you happen to find yourself tooling along Route 5 near the VA and are suddenly stricken with hunger pangs, turn in the drive. Members of the general public are welcome to get breakfast or lunch from whichever food truck happens to be there.