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

University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., has replaced a fajita bar in one of its dining halls with a superfoods bar, Tommie Media reports.

Aiming to provide more options for athletes and students with dietary restrictions, the new bar offers diners a choice of protein with a variety of toppings, such as beans, fruit, couscous and quinoa.

The superfoods bar has made a few appearances on campus since it was first tried for the school’s football players last summer.

“Word of mouth is getting out, and every day I get a few more people,” Ryan Carlson, a cook at the...

Sponsored Content
gluten free diet

From Stouffer’s.

A large part of menuing allergen-friendly cuisine is deciding which gluten-free items to serve.

In particular, college dining hall operators must decide whether to make gluten-free items in-house or to order gluten-free items from a manufacturer. Some factors to consider are: the size of the university, the demand for gluten-free options,and the ability to have separate gluten-free storage and workspaces in the university dining hall kitchen.

According to FoodService Director , 77% of college and university operators purchase their gluten-free...

Industry News & Opinion

Reading Hospital in West Reading, Pa., is using robots to help deliver patient meals, BCTV reports.

The eight robots, named TUGs, will be used to transport meals from the hospital’s nutrition services department to patient floors at Reading HealthPlex for Advanced Surgical & Patient Care.

Moving at three miles per hour, the robots will follow preprogrammed routes to the HealthPlex, where room ambassadors will remove room service carts from the TUGs and deliver them to patients. The TUGs will then return to nutrition services with dirty dishes for cleaning.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has partnered with fast casual Blaze Pizza to offer the chain’s signature pizzas, salads, beverages and desserts at select venues served by Sodexo, including colleges and universities.

Bill Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at Sodexo, said that Blaze’s growth in the fast-casual sector drove the partnership. Blaze opened its first unit in 2012 near the University of California at Irvine. Its pizzas are flash fired, cooking in under 180 seconds, according to the chain—a selling point for busy customers.

FSD Resources