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WIC programs called to help with migrant arrivals at Portland Expo

With more than 200 newly arrived sub-Saharan African migrants in Portland in recent weeks, the WIC program at the Opportunity Alliance (our sister CAP serving Cumberland County) has been at the front end of delivering vital nutrition services to those in need. Housed temporarily in the Portland Expo, there is an estimated 80 percent pregnancy and/or breastfeeding rate among the women who have arrived, and roughly 50 children age 5 and under.

The YCCAC WIC program has offered to assist The Opportunity Alliance (TOA) in this important work. Rachel Clukey, a nutrition counselor in the WIC Biddeford office, filled in for TOA WIC staff in Windham on Tuesday, June 18, so that TOA WIC counselors could work at the Portland Expo.

Anna Bullett, WIC program director at the Opportunity Alliance, wrote in an email last week:

We are issuing formula, bottles, prenatal vitamins and board books, and just trying to certify as fast as we can with basic info, so that once they are housed and/or give birth, they are already in our computer system. One of our breastfeeding peer counselors spent the day onsite Friday checking in with all the nursing moms, cheering them on and helping Lindsay and I understand some cultural complexities. Positive changes with regard to the menu are happening, so I am hopeful our new clients’ health will start to improve as they eat, get some fruits and vegetables and hopefully sleep. Today’s meals were made by a team of African volunteers here in Portland at Preble Street.

The TOA WIC program will continue to provide services to the asylum-seeking guests. YCCAC WIC’s program, along with other WIC programs in the area, will make their nutritionists available to ensure that TOA’s WIC clinics remain adequately staffed to meet all client needs. Read more about the community’s efforts to welcome newly arrived families here. How does a family get from the Congo or Angola to Portland, Maine? Read about one family’s amazing and treacherous journey here.

Interested in helping WIC families with basic needs? Consider buying from or sharing TOA WIC’s Amazon Wishlist with friends & family.

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