Spotlight on: Claire Turpin, BSc, PDt
Program Manager, New Dawn Meals on Wheels
Claire is a registered dietitian who is currently developing nutrition programming through the Better Bite Community Food Centre at the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation in Sydney,Cape Breton. She also manages the New Dawn Meals on Wheels program and Community Kitchen at the Centre. The nutrition program at New Dawn focuses on providing fresh, locally sourced vegetables, fruits, and meats. Claire is originally from Newfoundland. She holds a degree in Applied Human Nutrition from Mount Saint Vincent University. She has been working with New Dawn for the past three years since completing her dietetic internship. Claire enjoys hula hooping, traveling, and exploring new places and new foods. She loves what Cape Breton has to offer and has enjoyed making this her new home.
What has been your favourite experience as a dietitian?
We have just finished completely redesigning our Meals on Wheels program top to bottom;
building a new kitchen from scratch, training staff, designing menus, standardizing recipes,
writing grants and implementing the program - it has been quite the undertaking! Seeing this
thing go from a conceptual idea to a functioning program has been amazing and so rewarding. It
has also been pretty remarkable to see so many people come together and volunteer their time to
deliver such an important service to our community, it pushes me every day to do more and be
What first sparked your interest in nutrition?
I became a vegetarian at a very young age. Being basically the only vegetarian child in out port
Newfoundland (besides my sisters), I got quite a bit of flack about it. So, I think I was always in
some sort of discussion about food and about protein and about how wrong I was for making the
choice to cut meat out of my diet. I wanted to make sure that I was educated and honestly, I
wanted people to just leave me alone. So, I went and got myself a degree in dietetics and became
an expert in food and nutrition and it seems to have worked.
Finish this sentence: “I feel happiest when…”
I have to admit that there are several things that come to mind to complete this sentence! I feel
happiest when I have my backpack on exploring a different country and culture, trying out some
new foods and local beer. But I also feel happiest when I am cozied up in my house, sharing a
meal with friends or even at home on my own eating a veggie burger while watching Netflix in
bed! Different ends of the spectrum but all of these things make me feel happiest!
What skill or talent would you most like to have?
I always wanted to be an amazing figure skater! Whenever I hear a new song I am daydreaming
about an amazing ice dancing routine to go along with it.
What is your next big goal or project?
Well we certainly have a lot on the go. We are expanding into other revenue generating streams
and have secured funding to start administering nutrition related programs to the community that
I am pretty excited about. However, I think the next big thing on the agenda is to work out the
logistics of implementing a reusable tray system for Meals on Wheels. We will be sending out
hundreds of thousands of meals in the next five years and I think it is so important to cut down
on the use of disposables. The food system requires so much energy input and I want to do the
best I can to ensure that our little program is as green as possible.
What is your most memorable meal?
I think don’t have one. Maybe that is why I am always hungry and have this fascination with
food - it is also a big motivator for me to travel and taste new and interesting things!