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

Managing Your Business
pizza toppings

When the FoodService Director editors first started tossing around the idea of an “influencers” issue, our minds immediately turned to, well, foodservice directors. After all, so much of the learning in this industry is a peer-to-peer experience, and it’s your influence that inspires the content in every single issue of this magazine.

Then we imagined the massive infighting that would occur if we tried to whittle ourselves down to a list of just 20 influential operators and thought better of it. There’s already enough arguing for us to do about which pizza toppings are best (...

Ideas and Innovation
bolognese sauce

We’re trying to bring scratch cooking to all the elementary schools, but we’re taking it dish by dish. Right now, we satellite a lot of the dishes out. This month we made a Bolognese from scratch, and went to each of the schools to talk to them about the process and see if they could implement it. It helps us find out the hurdles and what they are going to need to make it work.

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

Ideas and Innovation
chicken and waffles

Our elementary menu is currently riding the breakfast-anytime advertising trend by offering Breakfast for Lunch every Tuesday. It ranks as our highest participation, and it was a great way for us to introduce chicken and waffles inspired by an IHOP dish.

FSD Resources