Claire Reilly '25G

Committed to fighting food insecurity
UNH graduate student Claire Reilly

Claire Reilly is a master’s student in the nutrition and dietetics program. From Westborough, Massachusetts, she earned her bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics from Auburn University.

Want to know a fun fact about Claire? She was born almost three months early and spent the first 5 weeks of my life in the hospital.

“I'm currently in a nutrition pediatrics course and learning a lot about preemies,” she says. “It's so cool to learn about the role dietitians had when I was in the NICU! It has me curious about going into pediatric nutrition and helping out the kiddos that need an extra push.”

COLSA: How would you explain your discipline and/or research to a non-scientist?

Claire Reilly: I am currently completing my master’s in nutrition and dietetic internship at UNH. I plan to sit for the RD exam and become a registered dietitian. In the past I've worked a lot in the topic of food insecurity, helping those who don't have access to stable nutritious foods. I was active in our campus food pantry and repurposing kitchen, providing meals and groceries to students.  I was able to become a research assistant on two projects at Auburn University, where I got my bachelor’s in nutrition and dietetics.

The research I was lucky enough to participate in highlighted campus-based coalitions at universities around the state of Alabama. I was able to hear from faculty, staff, and students about their campus-wide struggle with food insecurity, as well as their current and future efforts to fight it. I learned so much from this experience and hope to continue to help those who are food insecure.

COLSA: What do you wish your colleagues/friends/family knew about your work?

Claire: The field of nutrition is endless with opportunities. Nutrition is not only about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. Nutrition impacts all aspects of your health, life, and well-being!

COLSA: Have you learned/discovered anything during your research that’s surprised you? If so, what?

Claire: How severe and complex of an issue food insecurity is among college students. Students feel a lot of stigma toward asking for help with their basic needs. Not having access to stable healthy foods impacts your physical and mental health. It is likely an individual is struggling in many other aspects than just food insecurity. 

More conversation about how prevalent this topic is could help bring more awareness and diminish stigma; making students feel not alone. Also, a lot of them were not aware of their campus's initiatives to help, so awareness about programs is critical.

COLSA: What drives you?

Claire: How blessed I am for my upbringing. My parents are my role models. They have always encouraged me to prioritize my health. When I was young, you could always find me playing outside, exploring the woods behind our house, and being curious about nature. At twelve, I took responsibility
for our garden. Planting and nurturing my own plants all by myself was remarkably rewarding. I swelled with pride when my family ate the first batch of green beans from my garden. That’s when I fell in love with food and became fascinated with nutrition. I want everyone to experience that feeling.

COLSA: What are you most proud of?

Claire: I am not afraid of hard work and will wade through any difficulty when I know my efforts can make a difference. I love to learn and eagerly soak up all that I can about how the body and mind work and what makes them perform optimally. I am the best teammate you’ve ever had and thrive in supportive environments with the mutual support of teammates and mentors!

COLSA: Why did you choose UNH?

Claire: Through touring different programs, there was no question how strong of a sense of community exists in the UNH ANFS department. Faculty and staff are so supportive and want the best for you. I was also drawn to how unique our department is. I get to learn about sustainability, agriculture, and nutrition! Also, the seacoast region is beautiful, I love exploring Portsmouth, Durham, and farther north in the White Mountains.

COLSA: What do you plan to do with your degree?

Claire: As an RD, I want to continue my efforts in fighting food insecurity. I also love nutrition education; being a TA has been a highlight so far. I would love to work with children. They are so impressionable and curious, and I love that. My future goal is to combine all my interests into a farm-table-wellness nutrition program. I’d love to have a hands-on program for kids so they can learn to appreciate where our food comes from, how to make delicious meals and gain practical skills for later in life, and also appreciate what it does for our body!

I feel very passionately about wanting others to have that same experience and feeling I had growing up, as I give my upbringing a lot of credit for who I am today and why I'm in the field of dietetics.