'Poverty in Maine' subject of UMF talk by former USDA official

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FARMINGTON — Kevin Concannon, former undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Affairs, will present a public lecture titled “Poverty in Maine: Missed Federal Opportunities to Address the Problem” at the University of Maine at Farmington. 

The free, public talk will take place at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17, on the second floor mezzanine in UMF Mantor Library.

According to the Portland Press Herald, the U.S. Census has determined that 166,000 Mainers live on incomes below the poverty line, and of them, 43,000 are children. About half of those children are in “deep poverty,” living in a family with an income that’s half the official poverty line of $20,000 a year for a family of three.

While the private sector has the major influence on Maine’s economy, state government policies and program initiatives also have significant effects, and particularly so for the more vulnerable populations and geographic areas of Maine.

Concannon will cite examples of lost opportunities in recent years, up to the present, where Maine state government policy and practices knowingly failed to avail its citizens of significant federal financial assistance and programs that would have contributed to the Maine economy and would have mitigated some of the circumstances of Maine people and local institutions.

Concannon has had a lengthy and distinguished career in public service. He was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009 as USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. His principal responsibilities included oversight and funding authority for Food and Nutrition Services. Working in partnership with state and local organizations, the FNS promotes good nutrition and a healthy diet, and serves one in four Americans.

He has served as director of State Health and Human Services departments for Maine, Oregon and Iowa where he championed expanded services, improved access and affordable health care. He has served a number of national organizations, including serving as president of the American Public Welfare Association and the National Association of State Mental Health Program.

A native of Portland, Concannon has received a number of awards, including the Lifetime Human Services Award from the American Public Human Services Association in 2007, the 2012 Catholic Charities USA Keep the Dream Alive Award and the 2012 National WIC Leadership Award.

The lecture is sponsored by the UMF Division of Social Science and Business.

Kevin Concannon

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