Demand for help putting food on the table has grown faster in the Columbus area during the past year than any other metropolitan region of the state.

The number of people receiving food stamps and public assistance is up 9.4 percent in the central Ohio area from a year ago.

Statewide, enrollment in the two tax-funded programs increased 7.3 percent between May 2007 and May 2008, according to state statistics compiled by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

“Ohio families are struggling to pay their housing costs, fill their gas tanks and put food on their tables," Brown said. “It's alarming that the number of Ohio families in need of food assistance has risen so rapidly in the past year.”

Brown, who has been visiting food pantries across the state, said many of the families seeking help work full time or hold two or more part-time jobs but still struggle to feed their children.

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