The 21st century has arrived at Vaughan Elementary School. Beginning on (or around) Oct. 1, paying for lunch will simply take the placement of a finger on a scanner: select, scan, eat.

The new pilot program means Vaughn students will not have to memorize a lunch code or slow the food line when they forget it.

The finger-scanning program was adopted from Kennewick, S.D. Sodexho, Peninsula School District’s (PSD) food caterer, is funding the pilot occurring in Vaughn and Harbor Heights elementary schools.

Privacy is one of the major concerns voiced by parents. To safeguard information, the program creates a mathematical template based on the inputted scan to identify each student. The gathered information is specific to the scanner, and is not shared according to Sid Taylor, PSD director of child nutrition.

The finger-scanning lunch program will last the entire school year and then be evaluated for effectiveness. If data shows a lunch line speed increase, reliable technology and buy-in from families, then PSD will look at implementing it district wide.

The cost of a districtwide application will be determined later, with either the district, Sodexho, or a combination of the two footing the bill.

Initially, the program was set to begin on the first day of school, but Taylor said that “software glitches” delayed the kick-off. “The lunch staff is trained and ready to go though,” he added.

Vaughn parents have, or will, receive information about the program along with an opt-out choice. Since privacy regarding technology is a growing concern, parents are encouraged to weigh all the information and then make a decision about participation.

This is not the only program PSD considered. A more expensive computer touch screen that referenced students by picture and classroom also was investigated. The finger-scan program is more cost-effective, should PSD end up paying for all or part of a green-lit district operation, Taylor said.

For information, visit or attend the next school board meeting at Minter Creek Elementary School at 6 p.m., Oct. 14.