Highlights from the Network: NHFA Backbone Team – Melissa Groves

Melissa Groves

Melissa is the current Project Fellow for the NH Food Alliance. She is a non-traditional student completing her second bachelor's degree in Nutrition/Dietetics at UNH. She attained her first degree in English and Dance from Hofstra University (NY) and worked for more than 15 years as a copywriter and editor in pharmaceutical advertising in NYC. Melissa has had a lifelong interest in nutrition and sustainability that began when a dance teacher gave her a copy of Diet for a Small Planet. As she became more educated about the environmental impact of her lifestyle choices, working in pharmaceutical advertising became more and more of a conflict for her. "I left the advertising industry when I realized I could make more of an impact working with individuals on prevention, rather than with corporations on treatment," she explains. She moved to NH in 2013 and will complete her degree in May 2016. She was very excited to find out that she will be completing her Dietetic Internship at UNH as well, where she hopes to continue to build connections within the local food system.

Melissa lives in Portsmouth with her boyfriend and their 4 cats and enjoys cooking as much local food as she can. "The local food movement in NH is part of what made me fall in love with the area—it's so different here than in NYC, where farmers' markets are exclusive affairs and there is a 3-year-wait list for a CSA membership. Belonging to a CSA and joining the community-supported fishery has really made me feel connected to the area."

Melissa has enjoyed gaining a better understanding of the NH food system while working with the NH Food Alliance on communications initiatives such as the web site and newsletter. "As someone who is still relatively new to the area, I am still struggling with figuring out who does what within the NH food system. It seems like there are a lot of overlaps and gaps." She is proud to be a part of the NH Food Alliance, as they seek to better understand what is working and what is not working within the food system, in order to improve the network overall. 

Since moving to NH, Melissa has transitioned much of her freelance writing and editing work away from the pharmaceutical realm and into the nutrition world. She has written and edited cookbooks, articles, blogs, reports, and web content for a variety of nutrition professionals and other private clients. She has also done freelance consulting work with fellow NH Food Alliance Backbone Team member Erin Allgood, both for the Food Education Network and for Allgood Eats Local.

Melissa's initial goal after completing the dietetic internship is to work for an educational program such as SNAP or WIC. Her long-term plan is to attain an MS in nutrition education or public health and eventually influence state or federal food policy. "I passionately believe that everyone deserves access to healthy food and that we need to re-learn how to feed ourselves," she says.