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Advances in Lunchroom Technology

All across the country school lunchrooms are getting a bit of a makeover. Gone are the days where long lunch lines make for very restless students giving them little time to enjoy their meals. Here to stay are creative, new technologies many schools are implementing into their lunch programs. These are all based around the schools'  point of sale machines. They allow for a student to access his/her lunch account with a simple swipe of a finger or by a palm reader.

There are different types of scanning technologies. Biometric finger scanners use the unique pattern and ridges of a persons fingerprint. All it takes is one swipe of a finger to correctly identify a student or faculty member. Tallmadge Schools in Ohio implemented this technology in March.

There are also systems like Fujitsu PalmSecure™ Technology. This system uses infrared light to identify a person by reading their vein pattern on their palm. This technology was implemented in Pinellas Schools in Florida last August. Once a person is correctly identified, both the finger and palm scanners open the meal plan of the enrolled person.

There are many benefits to using both of these systems. These scanners can cut lunch lines in half. Instead of fumbling around with money or waiting to see if a balance is due, students can be in and out of the lunch line in a matter of minutes. Reason being that both systems allow for meal plans to be set up online. Parents are able to pay and monitor their child’s account with a click of a mouse. Payments may be made from anywhere and the funds automatically go to the students lunch account. The systems are also very accurate. Since no finger or palm is alike, the chances of a student using a wrong account are very minimal. It also protects the identity of those students who may have free or reduced lunches. The quickness and accuracy of these points of sales systems allow students to stop spending most of their time waiting for lunch and to start having time to eat their lunches.

Another positive thing about this technology is that it allows for school administrators to monitor their school’s food consumption. It takes a good look at what is being eaten can also track how much is being thrown away. The data they collect goes to the National School Program and is also used for ordering food for their cafeterias. Both scanning systems have the ability to send email or letter reminders to parents when a student’s balance is getting low. They also give parents an opportunity to restrict what their child is eating. Meaning that a parent can make the choice to ban his/her child from buying a la carte items. All of these benefits help provide a new outlook on how school lunches should be. The lunchroom does not have to be a place filled with chaos. These lunchroom technologies can help promote a positive lunchroom environment for all students.

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