Fredericton schools' cafeteria goes high tech
Two school cafeterias making use of fingerprint-scan payment systems
The two schools at Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne in Fredericton are taking advantage of a new high-tech system for students who want to buy food in their cafeterias.
With a scan of an index finger, a computer identifies the child and deducts the cost from the corresponding account.
Student Ben Delong said the system speeds things up.
"Last year went really slow, because we had to take out our money and then pay, open the cash register and all that," he said.
"So I think it will speed things up, especially with their goal to get more kids to come to the cafeteria."
Ben’s dad, Chris, said the system is also more convenient for parents.
"Now, I just put $100 on it, and the boys keep eating until that's gone. And away we go."
When the cafeteria services and the attached café were taken over by a co-operative, a new menu was introduced along with this new way of paying.
Users have their index fingers scanned and deposit money into an account using cash or PayPal.
Janine Landry, who runs the food services, said the system eliminates a lot of old communication problems.
"You have the small kid; you have to find the card, find the name. They talk quietly. It slows down the line, so now they don't even have to talk; they just use their finger," she said.
"Sometimes they lose the money, the $5 bill is all rolled; so when they come to the cash, we have to unroll that, so this is way easier. Really good system."
While some parents are hesitant to put their children's fingerprints in a database, by next week the schools hope to have 1,000 of 1,300 students entered.
Communautaire Sainte-Anne's infrastructure director, Stephane Sirois, is quick to reassure people. He said the data is on an internal computer system without a lot of information worth stealing.
"It's not the fingerprint that's being stored. It's just reference points. It's just linked to the student's name, and their grade. There is no phone number or other information," he said.
Using the scanner has also created unexpected benefits; there is no money for bullies to steal.
"There's also several students that can't afford a meal, and we pay for them. There's a program, and before they were kind of type-cast, 'oh, you're in the program', and now, they don't even know," Sirois said.
Teachers and patrons can also sign on to the system.