The lunch lines in West Virginia’s Wood County schools move much faster than they used to. After students fill their trays with food, they approach a small machine, push their thumbs against a touch pad — and with that small movement, they’ve paid for their meal.
For half the state’s school districts, as well as hundreds more across the country, the days of dealing with lost lunch cards or forgotten identification numbers are over.
“A student cannot forget their finger,” said Beverly Blough, the director of food service in Wood County School District, which in 2003 became the first district in West Virginia to use finger scanners.
But the emergence of finger scanning has also sparked a backlash from parents and civil libertarians worried about identity theft and violation of children’s privacy rights. In several cases when parents have objected, school districts have backed down, and some states have outlawed or limited the technology.