Tuesday, May 18, 2010 by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Obama administration criticizes New York’s policy of finger imaging food stamp applicants

A top Agriculture Department official urged the state to discontinue its practice of finger imaging applicants for food stamps--a practice he cited as costly and ineffective. Many advocates have long opposed the policy, saying that it discourages applicants because it increases the stigma of applying for the benefit and often requires an extra office appointment, pulling families out of work and costing taxpayers more money. Indeed, Joel Berg, director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger released data showing that New York has a lower food stamp enrollment rate than the national average and a much lower rate than the four largest states without a finger imaging requirement.

In a letter to the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability insurance, USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon stated that "more cost-effective alternatives to finger imaging should be actively considered both as a cost savings and as a means of program simplification."

New York City's Human Resource Administration continues to be the strongest voice for the policy in the state, even requesting a waiver to continue finger imaging employed heads of households when the State eliminated it in 2007.

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