NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — City leaders are calling on the Bloomberg administration to stop finger printing New Yorkers who are seeking food stamps, calling the practice unnecessary and punitive.

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Most other jurisdictions in the country have done away with finger printing to receive food stamps, but not New York City and advocates for the poor say it’s just plain wrong.

“It raises very serious civil rights problems,” said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. “This is sort of an electronic stop and frisk and it doesn’t solve a problem, it creates a problem.”

The City Council estimates 30,000 New Yorkers are going without food because of the finger printing requirement.

“This is federal money we’re leaving on the table in Washington,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. “How much? At least $54.4 million of federal money.”

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“Spending perhaps millions of dollars of city funds to keep away tens of millions of dollars at a minimum of federal funds to feed hungry New Yorkers, a business person would come to the automatic conclusion this just doesn’t make sense,” said Berg.

The State of Arizona and New York City are the only places in the country that require finger printing for food stamps. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says it helps prevent fraud.

For more information about food stamps and food programs, click here.

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