High food prices have pushed the number of hungry people in the world close to 1 billion, a UN agency said Tuesday. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said in a report that 40 million people have fallen into hunger this year, bringing the number of needy to 963 million. "For millions of people in developing countries, eating the minimum amount of food every day to live an active and healthy life is a distant dream," said Hafez Ghanem, the organization's assistant director general. Even though prices of major cereals fell by over 50 percent from their peaks earlier this year, they remain high compared to previous years, the agency said. Among the poor, the agency said, landless and female-headed households are most vulnerable to sharp rises in food prices.