Food prices in the Washington area rose by 0.6 percent last month, double the 0.3 percent rise nationally, the government reported yesterday.

The April increase here in grocery store food prices followed a 1 percent decline in March, when the nation as a whole experienced a 0.6 percent decline in food prices. The Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics commented that the April rise "was moderate when compared with the larger increases in January and February."

Over the past year, food prices in this area have climbed by 6.2 percent, the Labor Department said. Overall consumer prices rose by 6.3 percent in the Washington area in the 12 months through March, the latest month for which figures are available. Washington has experienced a sharp slowdown in inflation in recent months, as has the nation as a whole.

Declining oil prices and slower food price inflation have been important elements in cutting consumer price increases, with the recession also helping to hold prices down, analysts say.

In April prices in the Washington area rose for seafood, beef, most fresh fruits, frozen prepared foods, poultry and pork. These increases were partially offset by lower prices for most fresh vegetables, cola and other sodas, eggs and most dairy products.