Maureen Berner

Maureen Berner, professor of public administration and government, has focused much attention on hunger and food insecurity in North Carolina for over 10 years. In 2008, she was awarded a Seed Funding Grant by the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity for the North Carolina Hunger Pilot Project. The project aims to create an accurate picture of hunger in the state by documenting and evaluating the prevalence of hunger and food insecurity. Berner, along with MPA graduate Sharon Paynter, who is now an assistant professor at East Carolina University; 2009 graduate Emily Anderson; and second-year student Allen Beckman, spent nearly a year studying food insecurity in North Carolina. Like many anti-poverty campaigns, food assistance programs are government and charity-based services intended to be short-term solutions for crisis situations. In reality, many people seek regular assistance from food pantries, and the use of pantries has increased dramatically since 1980. Berner said, “I am particularly interested in how local governments and nonprofits such as food pantries are taking on more of the burden of providing a social safety net for our citizens.”