Connecticut High School Scans Kids Through Lunch Line

In an effort to give students more time to eat their lunch and have time to exercise, Cheshire High School has added barcodes to student IDs to speed up the process.

by Luther Turmelle, New Haven Register, Conn. / October 9, 2015
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(TNS) -- Shorter lunch lines are on the menu now at Cheshire High School — or at least that’s goal of a districtwide effort to give students more time to eat their lunch.

School officials spent a little more than $3,600 for bar code scanners at the high school and Dodd Middle School. Paired with bar codes that have been added to identification cards the students already have, the goal is to cut down the time it takes to pay for lunches served at school cafeterias, said Madeleine Diker, director of food and nutrition services for the district.

“We want to make eating lunch easy, we want make it fun and we want to serve them quickly,” Diker said Thursday.

Students at Cheshire High School have 25 minutes to eat lunch and, according to Diker, the goal is to get students through the lunch line in 12 minutes or less, giving them 13 minutes to eat their meals.

School officials hope to achieve that goal by reducing the number of people that enter a nine-digit code in order to pay for their lunch.

Lunchtime at the school is something of a chaotic experience. Faced with the prospect of serving 900 of the school’s roughly 1,500 students, lunch is served in three waves between 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

Even with cafeteria workers reminding them to use their identification cards, there were more students punching in codes than using the scanners.

“Change is not easy,” Diker said. “Even if you only get a few kids at first, it’s still a good thing. Interestingly, it is the younger high school kids who are more engaged with the bar code technology.”

To whet the appetite of students for using the technology, Diker offered a promotion on Wednesday that offered a free cookie to all those who paid for their school lunches using student identification cards. A total of 514 students took advantage of the promotion, she said.

The use of scanned bar codes to pay for school lunches isn’t completely new to the district. Because children in kindergarten and first grade have a hard time remembering their student identification numbers, students in those grades have paid for their lunches using bar codes for about two years, Diker said.

With Cheshire High School and Dodd Middle School being added this week, the goal is to have all students in the district purchase their lunches using the bar code scanner by the first week in November

©2015 the New Haven Register (New Haven, Conn.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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