Students’ meals at their fingertips

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 May 2012

Honiton Community College's Finance Director Gary Wills with the manger of Innovate, the college's caterers, Sue Pym.

Honiton Community College's Finance Director Gary Wills with the manger of Innovate, the college's caterers, Sue Pym.

Archant

Honiton Community College to roll out new cashless catering system to revolutionise school meals.

A new cashless catering system was put under the microscope by parents and carers of Honiton Community College students.

Last week, the college met with parents to introduce the new system and discuss any concerns.

The cashless catering system is expected to go live from June 14 and will use biometric technology to pay for food purchased in the college’s canteen.

It works by using a special reader which scans a student’s finger to access their individual account.

The system creates a grid reference taken from certain points of the finger.

A letter issued from the college to parents said: “No image is stored, only key measurements are taken and converted into a unique number.

“This number cannot be converted back to any measurements or fingerprint image.”

The information will be stored in a BioStore, which is a central database located in the college.

Parents heard that the Biometric system does not allow pupils to borrow or steal credentials from each other and only mathematical representations of points of the finger image are recorded.

They were also told that this data is then encrypted into a string of numbers and that it is impossible to recreate the original finger print image from the stored data.

Concerns were raised about the security aspect of the technology as well as hygiene – the college will be looking into purchasing handgels.

As part of the new system, parents and carers will be able to access activity reports where they can view the food their child is buying.

They will also be able to control the amount their child has to spend and will be able to top up the account using the ParentPay system online or other PayPoint facilities.

It is hoped the new technology will reduce queuing times for pupils and make it easier for parents and carers to pay for their child’s school meals online as well as reducing bullying and cash being lost or stolen.

Following the meeting, parent Sheran Taylor said: “I feel reassured about the system. I was concerned about the security aspect of it.

“It is a wonderful idea. It will be quite nice to know what they are eating and buying.”

Her son Edward added: “I think it will be very useful as queuing is quite a pain.”

The technology has already been rolled out to a number of schools across the country.

The college has also consulted and visited schools that have already employed the technology.


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