By Shiva Peri
The cafeteria uses a pin-input system to simplify the money exchanging process. While this system has improved the efficiency of the lunch lines by eliminating the exchange of physical currency, it has done a poor job of educating students about the value of a dollar.
From my personal experience, I have found that the money in my account was completely used up in the same day I put in $20 without purchasing $20 worth of food. The truth is that many students do not know the true cost of most food items. This fact may be the result of few price labels on any food items.
Parker Galley, a sophomore at CRN, believes that this divide between price and students’ knowledge is a problem: “[The pin-input system] does not teach kids how to wisely spend money.”
A potential reason for why this system has never been questioned is that many students’ families are relatively affluent and will gladly keep spending more. Another possible explanation is that parents may be less likely to question to students’ spending habits when such spending is used for food, ostensibly a necessary purchase. However, the question remains: What system will create effective lunch lines and teach students how to value money at the same time?
One solution to this issue is for students to get receipts with each transaction, but then the school would have to buy receipt printers, and students would have to collate all these receipts regularly. However, a digital receipt that is sent to the student via text or email could be a more logical solution that would avoid the expense of printers and the potential issue of lost receipts. Such a system could be combined with an online access portal for each student’s account so that students and parents could access records of all purchases to review how much they are spending.
If we are able to modify the current system even slightly, then we can enable more informed consumers with better spending habits in the future.