Technology versus privacy

What do readers think about using biometrics in school and college cafeterias?

I was reading an article the other day about a bill currently making its way through the Florida legislature that would ban the use of biometrics in school cafeterias in the interest of protecting children’s privacy. The bill in question, SB 188, made it through the state senate’s Criminal Justice Committee. But it was blocked by the Judiciary Committee and hasn’t been rescheduled for a vote.

The use of biometrics—the scanning of fingerprints, palms, eyes and even faces—to identify people is certainly not new technology. Many companies and institutions use it on their employees in place of the old punch-card method of “clocking” in and out of work, and for limiting access to certain areas of a building. Some foodservice operations even use it to verify who is entering areas such as walk-in coolers and freezers, as a way to reduce theft. And the University of Georgia’s foodservice department has employed the technology for more than two decades to identify when students on meal plans are accessing cafeterias.

But as more and more school districts have begun using biometrics as a way to help move students more quickly through cafeteria lines, some parents are starting to question how the data collected from these scans is being used by the district or even whether it’s legal for districts to do so.

A fair number of these districts are in Florida, such as Pinellas County. (See “Art Dunham: Savvy Businessman.”) Parents’ complaints in some of these districts have reached the eyes of legislators such as Sen. Dorothy Hukill, D-Port Orange, the sponsor of SB 188.

The article started me thinking, just how prevalent is biometrics’ use in non-commercial foodservice and what do foodservice directors think about it? I’d like to hear from readers. Do you use biometrics on either employees or customers and, if so, what method do you employ and for what purpose? Also, whether or not you use biometrics, what do you think about it? Is it a legitimate, sensible piece of technology or an invasion of privacy that has no place in our industry?

Send me your thoughts at pking@cspnet.com. I’ll let you know what people have shared in a future issue.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

Read the full story via The Times Herald-Record .

Industry News & Opinion

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

Read the...

Industry News & Opinion

Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

ThinkFoodGroup was this year named a Power 20 multiconcept operator by Restaurant...

Ideas and Innovation
ticket stubs

Every week, our cooks pick an experimental kitchen project to expand their skills, culminating in a Friday contest where they cook a new dish that puts them out of their comfort zone. The winner of the weekly contest is awarded points and prizes. The cook with the most points at the end of the year receives a free ticket to an annual team gathering in Maine, where staffers bond and gain inspiration from coastal menus.

FSD Resources