High school cafeterias go high-tech using palm scanning technology to allow meal purchases

Published: Aug. 6, 2013 at 12:50 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2013 at 4:50 PM EDT
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The scanner coming to Muscogee County school cafeterias could look something like this. (Photo...
The scanner coming to Muscogee County school cafeterias could look something like this. (Photo source: Fujitsu PalmSecure)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The School Nutrition Department takes a high-tech approach to assist students with meal purchases in the Muscogee County School District.

Now, high school students can buy their lunch with a simple scan of the palm using Meral Computing Services (MCS) software with Fujitsu PalmSecure hardware, which uses the same near-infrared technology that comes in a television remote control or Nintendo Wii video game.

The device takes a super high-resolution infrared photograph of the vein pattern just below the skin. The image, between 1.5 and 2.5 square inches, is recorded and digitized.

When a student comes through the lunch line, he or she can hold a hand over a black box, which scans the palm and links it to the child's meal account.

"It's a quick and easy way to help expedite the time spent in the lunch line to purchase meals and helps to ensure accurate, efficient identification of students, funds, and reports," says  School Nutrition Director Marian Bone.

With the use of the new technology, it takes approximately four seconds to complete each sale with 99% accuracy.

"In the past, if a child did not have their student ID, the cashier would have to search for the student's name and account number, which could take up to a minute or longer," Bone added.

The palm scan capability increases the time available to eat lunch for students by reducing unnecessary time in the lunch line. In addition, it is hygienic.

Participation is voluntary. Parents may opt out by notifying the school in writing. Students who do not use palm scan must bring a student ID to the cafeteria to purchase a meal.

Parents should also know the district is using a new online meal payment system,, which allows parents to post money to meal accounts. The link may also be accessed under the For Parents, Pay for School Lunch link at

The pay for school lunch link provides instructions on how to put money in a child's account. Any unused funds that were applied to the child's account last year will automatically roll over to the child's account for 2013-2014.

Parents must enroll through the new payment system to add money to the child's account with the child's personal ID number, which can be obtained from the child's school.

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