Afghan immigrants in Kent County will benefit from two grants passed by the Kent County Board of Commissioners on Nov. 18.
The two resettlement grants will provide critical services to newly arrived Afghan refugees as local resettlement agencies worked to determine and suggest critical needs to be met for new Kent County residents.
The first, $333,000 Refugee Resettlement Food Assistant Grant from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be managed by Kent County Community Action (KCCA), who to date has provided more than 1,000 packaged, culturally appropriate meals for the refugees. Meals are provided to those in temporary living quarters until permanent living arrangements are established.
“I am glad that KCCA can help during this time of need,” said Rachel Kunnath, KCCA program manager. “I cannot imagine what these families have been through over the past few months, and it is my hope that these meals are a little taste of home that brings them comfort.”
The second, $180,000 Refugee Screening Grant from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will be carried out by the Kent County Health Department (KCHD). The health department will provide refugees with health screenings, which include a review and documentation of medical history, vaccination administration, referrals to primary care and testing for contagious disease.
KCHD also will offer health educational services, including an introduction to the U.S. health care system, guides for nutritional healthy living and Medicaid health insurance coverage.
“Kent County is expecting more than 350 refugees from Afghanistan and the responsibility to provide health screenings and immunizations for these new residents falls on local public health,” said Joann Hoganson, KCHD public health division director.