Cafeteria Pilot Program Aims to Speed Up Lunch Lines

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PANAMA CITY - Bay District Schools officials are hoping some new technology will mean elementary school students will spend less time standing and more time eating.

"Three minutes to get 18 to 24 students through the line with their food and out to their tables," said Northside Elementary School Principal, Amy Harvey.

Bay District Schools and Chartwells partnered up to implement a new payment program utilizing lunch cards with bar codes.

Northside Elementary School is one of two schools in the county to pilot the new program.

"I think it's awesome. I think it's really sped up the process in the lunch room and i understand they're looking at doing this for all of the elementary schools and i think that's a good thing," said Harvey.

Parents can prepay on the district's website or at their child's school. Chartwells management believes in the program.

"One of the accounts that I worked prior to me coming to Bay, we used the similar system of the bar codes," said Chartwells Manager, Julio Narvaez.

The kids at Northside Elementary seem to like the new lunch cards too.

"We can just pick them up and just scan them and it's very easier," said Tommie Reed, a 5th grade student at Northside Elementary.

"It lets you know that you did it and on top it says okay, your turn is up," said Jamison Blair, another 5th grade student at Northside Elementary.

If a student forgets their card, they won't go hungry. They can punch in their student ID number or give cash to pay for their meal.

"The only thing we're working on right now is how to keep up with new enrollments and new students in getting those cards printed, but we're working through that," said Harvey.

Chartwells officials will introduce the program to all elementary schools by the end of the year. The entire district will have the program by the end of 2014 school year.