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Maureen M. Berner

Professor of Public Administration and Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapter Member: North Carolina SSN
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About Maureen

Berner teaches evaluation and analysis courses for MPA students and provides similar training and advising to state and local government officials throughout North Carolina. Her personal research focuses on the ability of local organizations to address food insecurity, poverty, and income inequality. Berner has worked with nonprofits, food banks, local governments, and state agencies. Berner was a 2014–2016 University of North Carolina Thorp Engaged Faculty Fellow, a Visiting Scholar with the University of Ghent in Belgium in the fall of 2017, and recipient of numerous academic awards.

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Quoted by India Mackinson in "Local, National Barriers Leave Millions of Child Feeding Dollars on the Table," North Carolina Health News, August 3, 2018.
Quoted by Emery P. Dalesio in "Economist: Middle-Class Wage Crunch Worse in North Carolina, Asheville," Citizen Times, July 6, 2017.


"Multi-Dimensional Measures of Poverty: The Potential Contribution of Non-Profit Food Pantry Data to Assess Community Economic Condition" Journal of Poverty and Public Policy 9, no. 4 (2017): 365-476.

Official poverty statistics dramatically underestimate the level of true poverty in the population. A more realistic measure is the level of demand on community-based social service non-profits such as food pantries, which have seen dramatic increases for the last 20 years indicating a more worse economic state for the average household than imagined.

Research Methods for Public Administrators (edited with Elizabethann O'Sullivan, Gary Rassel, and Jocelyn DeVance Taliaferro) (Routledge Press, 2017).

Introduces students to the methodological tools public administrators and policy analysts use to conduct research in the twenty-first century.

"Organizational Capacity of Nonprofit Social Service Agencies" (with Sharon Paynter). Journal ofHealth and Human Services Administration 37, no. 1 (2014): 111-145.

Discusses organizational capacity research, which is limited by its focused on larger organizations, mostly ignoring the tens of thousands of front-line community-based non-profits and volunteer-run organizations which comprise a vital part of the national social safety net.

"When Even the ‘Dollar Value Meal’ Costs Too Much: Food Insecurity and Long-Term Dependence on Food Pantry Assistance" (with Sharon Paynter and Emily Anderson). Public Administration Quarterly 35, no. 1 (2011): 26-58.

The typical visitor to a food pantry does not necessarily represent the stereotypical image of a destitute individual, but rather a wide variety of people in a wide variety of circumstances, who often make too much to qualify for public benefits but not enough to get by.

"A Portrait of Hunger, the Social Safety Net, and the Working Poor" (with Trina Ozer and Sharon Paynter). Policy Studies Journal 36, no. 3 (2008): 403-420.

Using data from a large midwestern food pantry, we find working actually makes clients more likely to rely on charity food assistance, long-term, not less. This suggests that working creates enough of a burden that some jobs may make it harder to get by, not easier.