Some Oak Harbor parents unhappy with finger scan program for school lunches

The district is asking kids to scan their fingers to keep track of the program.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:47 PM EDT
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OAK HARBOR, Ohio (WTVG) - Some parents in Oak Harbor aren’t happy with a new school lunch program this year.

The district is asking kids to scan their fingers to keep track of who comes through the line. The worry is what kind of personal information is being collected.

An email went out to parents last June explaining this program to them. Some of them may have just deleted it or don’t remember that they got it. But some are surprised they’re seeing that plan in action.

The streamlining of the lunch program at Benton-Carroll-Salem schools in Oak Harbor will be done by finger scan. A surprise to this mom when her daughter was recently one of the first to be scanned.

“She got in the car and said ‘Mom, they scanned both our index fingers today.’ I said ‘What’?” A mother who asked not to be identified said.

She did see a flyer about it recently but wasn’t specifically asked “if” she wanted her child to participate.

“Nothing on it was asking permission or consent whatsoever,” the mom said. “I just don’t believe that any child should have to have their fingerprint biometrically scanned to be able to get school lunch.”

“I want to stress it’s not a fingerprint. It’s a finger scan,” BCS superintendent Cathy Bergman said.

Superintendent Bergman said the district is not and is not allowed to collect actual fingerprints. Instead unique feature of the finger will create a binary number that links to the child’s ID purchasing lunch.

“I look at kids today they have cell phones. They often times use a scan by their finger or they do a facial identification. We’re not doing any of that,” Bergman said.

District officials say the data collected from the finger stays on a local computer terminal and is not shared in any database or cloud connected to the company running the scanner. If a family wants to opt-out, their child will go back to entering their pin for lunch.

“This isn’t where you take a job somewhere and they require you to use biometrics to do your job. These are children. They’re minors,” the mom said.

“Communication is always an ongoing thing. Obviously, could we have done more? Probably absolutely for sure,” Bergman said.

The district reiterates that if any parent does not feel comfortable they can take their child out or opt out altogether.

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