Hunger up in U.S. cities, more to come: mayors

WASHINGTON Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:24pm EST

A woman reaches for canned food items at the Food Bank For New York City Community Kitchen & Food Pantry of West Harlem in New York, December 21, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

A woman reaches for canned food items at the Food Bank For New York City Community Kitchen & Food Pantry of West Harlem in New York, December 21, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A survey of 29 U.S. cities shows hunger has risen in most of them in the last year and is largely expected to increase in 2012, the U.S. Conference of Mayors said on Thursday.

Eighty-six percent of the survey cities reported requests for emergency food aid had increased in the last year, the study by the mayors' group said. Two cities said they had stayed the same.

Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

No survey city expected requests for emergency food aid to drop over the next year, and 93 percent expected a rise.

The number of homeless people rose by an average of 6 percent for the survey cities, with 42 percent reporting an increase and 19 percent saying the number stayed the same.

The number of homeless families was up an average of 16 percent.

Officials in 64 percent of the cities expected the number of homeless families to increase, and 55 percent of them expected the number of homeless individuals to rise.

(Reporting By Ian Simpson; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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