A plan to fingerprint elementary school students when they buy lunch has some parents worrying that Big Brother has come to the cafeteria.

The Hope Elementary School District has notified parents that, beginning this month, students at Monte Vista, Vieja Valley and Hope elementary schools will press an index finger to a scanner before buying cafeteria food.

The scan will call up the student's name and student ID, teacher's name and how much the student owes, since some receive government assistance for food.

It is meant to speed up cafeteria lines.

"It raises sanitary issues, privacy issues — it is kind of Orwellian," said Tina Dabby, a parent of two at Monte Vista Elementary. "It just sounds kind of creepy."

Currently, the information is written on paper and transferred to computer so reports can be compiled and sent to the state and federal governments, which reimburse school districts for the subsidized lunches served.

"It's so archaic to transfer something from a sheet of paper to a computer day by day," Hope schools Superintendent Gerrie Fausett told the Santa Barbara News-Press.

A similar procedure is already in use in the Santa Barbara School Districts, where students punch a six-digit number into a keypad that calls up their name, photograph and other details, including whether they have any food allergies.