The Howard County Public School System is implementing a new Point of Sale System in cafeterias this year, the system’s Department of Food and Nutrition Service announced last week.

Parents will have the option of funding an online account for their children’s meals, either through a credit card or online check. Students will enter a unique PIN number at the cafeteria check out to pay for breakfast, lunch and a la cart foods.

The program will roll out over three months, starting in September in high schools, followed by middle and then elementary schools. Families can expect to receive a letter from the school system with their students’ pin number and instruction on how to access the payment website before the program goes live at their school.

Pin numbers will remain the same throughout a student’s school career. Cafeteria cashiers will also be able to search by name for students at the cash register.

The program is optional. Students can continue to pay for their food in cash.

In a news release announcing the program, the school system’s Director of Food and Nutrition Service Mary Klatko said officials were excited about the options the new program provides.

“If offers a number of benefits, including eliminating the need for students to carry cash and the ability for parents to set spending limits and receive low-balance notifications,” she said.