May 29, 2012
-- The Food Bank for Westchester announced today that it supports Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s initiative to end the finger-imaging requirement for SNAP (Food Stamp) applicants and recipients. On May 17, the governor announced that New York State will remove the requirement for all food stamp applicants and recipients, helping simplify the application process and removing a barrier to reducing hunger among the state’s children and adults.
“This is great news for food-insecure people who may be eligible for SNAP benefits,” said Food Bank for Westchester Executive Director Christina Rohatynskyj. “The Food Bank applauds Governor Cuomo for removing this barrier. There are more efficient ways than finger imaging to detect fraud, and this practice was a barrier that prevented people from applying for benefits. No one should be made to feel like a criminal because he or she is hungry. Now more Westchester residents at risk of hunger will face one less obstacle when applying for SNAP benefits. This will make food assistance more accessible for Westchester’
s children, seniors and their families.”
The Food Bank for Westchester’
s SNAP (Food Stamp) Outreach program provides people with SNAP information, prescreening, application assistance, and advocacy. The program targets seniors, the homebound and non-English speakers who are often least able to access food stamps –the food assistance to which they are entitled. In 2011, the Food Bank reached 5,824 people with information and assistance through this outreach program and Food Bank staff made 353 home visits to assist homebound seniors and the disabled with SNAP applications.
Statewide, one in six children lives in a home without enough food on the table, yet 30 percent of New Yorkers eligible for food stamps — over 1.4 million people — do not receive them, leaving over $1 billion in federal funds unclaimed every year. In his 2012 State of the State message, Governor Cuomo pledged to increase participation in the SNAP program and to remove barriers that prevented people from applying for or receiving benefits.
"There is never an excuse for letting any child in New York go to bed hungry," Governor Cuomo said. "For too long, requiring finger imaging from those eligible for food stamp benefits has created an unnecessary barrier to participation in the program, causing a negative stigma and keeping food off the table for those in need. By removing this barrier, additional New Yorkers in need will be able to access the benefits they deserve without having to submit to this unneeded and burdensome requirement."
John Evers, Executive Director of the Food Bank Association of New York State, said, "Governor Cuomo is sending a strong message about our moral obligation to prevent hunger. People who need food stamps have committed no crime and treating them like criminals only means we are needlessly failing to help the hungry. We applaud Governor Cuomo for eliminating the practice of finger imaging and ending this longstanding impediment for food stamp recipients."