The military said it has launched a trial run of a mobile diner vehicle that sells food and beverages for the convenience of soldiers serving in rural units or engaged in exercises in the countryside.
In the past, when the military conducted training in rural areas and goods were not easy to obtain, local vendors would follow the troops, selling food and drinks from their vans, which were nicknamed “little bumblebees (小蜜蜂).”
Now, soldiers will be able to buy food and drinks from the military’s own little bumblebees, Colonel Shen Yau-guo (沈耀國) said yesterday.
According to Shen, the military’s first mobile diner went into operation earlier this month in rural areas in northern Taiwan.
A second one is slated to start operating in eastern Taiwan later this month. The military also plans to use the diners in central and southern Taiwan, Shen added.
One mobile diner can serve about 500 soldiers food and drinks 24 hours a day and prices would be 10 percent cheaper than the market price, he said.
Among the items served are kanto-ni (關東煮) — an assortment of tidbits such as large chunks of radish, fish sausages and tofu boiled in a soy broth — boiled tea eggs (茶葉蛋), buns, coffee and ginger tea, Shen said.
The vehicles are equipped with a solar energy system, a broadcasting system and a big screen, he added.
However, several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators criticized the measure, saying the military should not take away business from local mobile diners and vendors.