Nebraska parents question new lunch fingerprint system

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Schools in Gretna, Nebraska are using an electronic lunch program. The program eliminates the need for cash by allowing kids to use their fingerprints to pay for their meals. The school system says it prevents kids going without lunch by mis-entering their lunch card number, but one parent doesn’t like it.

“Just don’t believe at this age that kids need to be involved in biometrics,” said Justin Osterfoss, concerned parent.

Justin Osterfoss says he got this email from Gretna Public Schools this week, talking about their new identification program to pay for hot lunches. He believes parents should be able to decide whether or not they want their child’s fingerprint used.

The email states they aren’t going to store fingerprints but they have to have some sort of recognition of this is who it’s identifying. I understand that the world changes, you know, the world is moving on with more technology. But as of right now, I don’t feel comfortable with the biometrics,” said Osterfoss.

While surrounding school districts have added the new technology. Osterfoss says he doesn’t want his child’s identity out there, and believes the new equipment takes away from his son learning.

“You need to be able to learn and do your own responsibilities whether that’s memorizing a lunch code, whether that’s ‘I need to hold onto my lunch card not let anyone take it,'” he said.

So, upset by the auto enrollment, Osterfoss took to Facebook, finding out other parents felt the same way.

“That information has to go somewhere, has to be stored somewhere,” he explained. 

We found out the Gretna School District has the same program implemented at one of their high schools and two middle schools. We reached out to the district about the change and they sent us this statement saying in part:

“We have found that the process speeds up the lunch line or prevents the occasional issues of students entering the wrong lunch number.”

“You can have your personal identification taken. You can change your Social Security number. You can change a password. You can change your bank account number. You can’t change your fingerprint,” said Osterfoss. 

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