The number of Ohioans qualifying for a federally funded summer nutrition program has increased greatly in the past year, a U.S. legislator says, but only slightly more than 10 percent from the Buckeye State are taking advantage of the food assistance initiative.

“I have just issued a report and all the current trends are going the wrong way — there is more unemployment, more stagnant wages, higher cost for fuel, higher cost for food — and people are living with more expenses and no pay increases,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Mansfield, said Wednesday in a teleconference about a reason for the increase in those seeking assistance. “We have learned much of that is concentrated among the very young, almost half of Ohioans in poverty are under 24 years old, and that is where we have the opportunity.”

Brown released a report Wednesday from data compiled by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services which showed nearly 1 in 10 Ohioans receive food stamps, and the number of Ohio recipients of food assistance — public and private — increased by more than 7 percent statewide in 2008. The major metropolitan areas of Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo reported increases of 8.49 percent, 9.35 percent, 9.21 percent and 8.86 percent, respectively, from May 2007 to May 2008 in the number of people requiring food and nutrition assistance.

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