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Hawthorne Schools Speed Up Lunch Line With Palm Scanners

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HAWTHORNE (CBSLA.com) — Two schools in Hawthorne are introducing palm scanners in hopes of speeding up the cafeteria lunch line.

In a trial program at Hawthorne Middle and Ramona Elementary schools, students are being asked to use their palm prints to register for their mid-day meals.

“I think it’s very cool,” one middle school student said, adding that her lunch time wait sometimes spanned up to 30 minutes.

With the old system, students entered a five-digit code into a keypad. That allowed cafeteria staff to process about 150 students in 15 minutes.

That’s still not fast enough, according to Hawthorne School District Food Service Director Anna Apoian.

“Right now, we are serving about 65 percent of the students and we would like to see that go up to 80 percent,” Apoian told CBS2’s Kristine Lazar.

The district’s aim is to make sure no student goes hungry.

“When they go back to the classroom, number one they’re behaved,” Apoian said, adding she hopes students will also “focus on their studies and learn more” by ensuring they are offered lunch.

The palm scanner works by taking a two-inch image of the vein paths on students’ hands.

“Once that palm is scanned the image is taken and broken down into 1’s and 0’s. It is a unique number for that student,” said Reggie Cancel, Network Manager of the Hawthorne School District.

Five parents have so far opted out of the program, citing privacy concerns. The district contends the server is secure.

Many of the students have yet to adopt the new technology, still preferring to use the keypad. At $500 per palm scanner, the district isn’t sold on the idea just yet.

“We’re going to give it a couple more weeks,” Apoian said.

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