May 20, 2008
Photograph, Dr. Alice Ammerman

Photograph, Dr. Alice Ammerman

The UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity, based in the School of Law, has awarded seed funding for projects proposed by UNC faculty members Maureen Berner of the School of Government, and Alice Ammerman, DrPH, professor in the Department of Nutrition and director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Berner, associate professor of public administration and government, received $10,478 to launch the N.C. Hunger Pilot Project. The project seeks to create an accurate portrait of hunger in North Carolina by documenting and evaluating the prevalence of hunger and food insecurity. Food insecurity defines one type of hunger affecting a household in which family members are uncertain of having enough food because of insufficient money or other resources.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that North Carolina ranked higher than the national average for rates of both food insecurity (13.8 percent) and prevalence of hunger (4.9 percent) among the state’s population. Those rates had increased significantly from previous reports.

Ammerman, who holds faculty appointments at the UNC Schools of Medicine and Public Health, received $10,000 to gather data related to local sustainable agriculture and food systems, especially as related to the loss of black-owned farms in North Carolina.

A graduate student will conduct a policy analysis specific to the loss of black-owned farmland the resulting economic impact. The student will work with a larger interdisciplinary team, which is gathering health, environmental and economic data, to consider the economic viability of black- and Hispanic-owned farms producing sustainably grown foods for local consumers.

The seed funding grants are part of the poverty center’s goal to encourage faculty to address, through innovative and applied research, the persistent challenges facing those living at or below the poverty line.

In addition to providing seed funding of up to $20,000 for research projects grounded in finding solutions to the ongoing struggles of the poor and near-poor, the center also will help grant recipients find additional funding to expand promising projects beyond the initial six-month pilot phase.


School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or



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