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Central Ohio soup kitchens see spike in demand

The Holy Family soup kitchen in Franklinton with five rows of cafeteria tables is among the largest soup kitchens in the cities. Once a week, Helen Lang of Georgesville Road comes to the kitchen to get a hot noon-day meal and some conversation.

"I think I started about six years ago and then I broke my hip and didn't come for awhile. Now I used to drive and I came everyday but now I have to have a ride and so I come once a week," Lang said.

Ms. Lang has plenty of company for her week-day meal. Director Frances Carr says on any given day more than 700 individuals show up to get a free meal, no questions asked.

At Holy Family, Carr says more people began showing up in late 2001, and she blames a continued weak job market for the big crowds at the mid-day meal. "Its just that there are so many people out of work. And so many people are low income, ya know and some people working two jobs and still can't make it, so," Carr says.

Other soup kitchens in central Ohio also report more requests for meals and emergency food supplies. At the Mid-Ohio foodbank, Director Evelyn Behm, says the number of meals served so far this year is up by more than 6 percent compared to 2004.

As the weather gets colder, food pantries and soup kitchens in Central Ohio traditionally get busier as families and indivuduals divert more of their available income to heating costs. Carr and Behm predict this year will be especially hard on low-wage workers and the elderly living on fixed incomes.