Palm Beach County (FL) Schools would like to invest in a finger-scan-based POS system for all its units following a successful pilot at one elementary school, reports the Florida Sun-Sentinel. The proposal would have Palm Beach County purchase 511 of the scanners at $449 each for a total outlay of around $191,000.
Two years ago, Seminole County was the first system in the state to opt for biometric finger scanning for its school cafeteria POS platform. Although the two counties will use different vendors, the approach is similar—the scanner reads a user’s finger and compares it with a scan kept on file to validate a purchase. The verified scan then generates a debit from either the child’s lunch account or tabulates it as a free/reduced lunch purchase.
The method is reportedly highly accurate and does not involve “fingerprinting” in the traditional sense, as some critics have charged. Nevertheless, both school systems give parents an opt-out if they are uncomfortable with having their child participate in the program.
The school system derives an advantage because the scans and validations are quick, speeding up checkout and hopefully encouraging participation. Seminole County claims that its data shows a 90 to 120 second reduction in processing a group of 30 students through a lunch line compared with its traditional POS. One high school reportedly saw a 17-percent lunch sale increase after the system was adopted, along with a virtual elimination of meal account misuse.