For the last 6 months, COVID-19 has threatened the future life of unborn babies, as though they weren’t protected in their mother’s womb. As the health crisis continues, the toxic effects of stress on those in vulnerable situations are amplifying.
Fondation Olo wants to give you an update on the latest findings and on its emergency fundraising campaign, as well as tell you what’s going on in the field.
Our response during this period
Sadly, it’s proven that the current pandemic combines all the stressors that can impact the lives of expectant mothers and their unborn children. For this reason, Fondation Olo took action quickly, during the first weeks of the crisis, to provide support to the families receiving follow-up care.
This response included making a broad call for solidarity through an emergency fundraising campaign AND deploying measures for expectant mothers, families and the practitioners supporting them.
The emergency fundraising campaign
Given the significant need, an emergency fundraising campaign was launched, with a goal of raising $750,000. We are motivated to help expectant mothers get easier access to healthy foods to reduce their food insecurity and their stress.
So far, thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners, we have raised 72% of our target. Thank you!
The impact of stress on pregnant women
We now know that stress has a major impact on expectant mothers and the babies they are carrying. We spoke about this with Dr. Suzanne King, a professor and researcher with the Psychiatry Department of McGill University, who has been working on the effects of stress and anxiety for over 20 years. The work of Dr. King and her team has shown that the environment in which an expectant mother lives impacts her child’s health after birth.
Read the rest of the article here.
Tangible action for an immediate impact
- A new Olo voucher
Across Quebec for a few weeks, women receiving Olo follow-up received a new temporary voucher valued at $10 to redeem for food.
This spring, 30,000 of these special vouchers were sent out to Olo practitioners, who passed them onto their clients while also lending them an ear and providing comfort.
This summer, another 10,000 vouchers were distributed thanks to the progress made in our fundraising campaign. We knew that at that time, emergency food assistance could be less available in the community, while stress and food insecurity were still present.
A total of 40,000 vouchers were distributed, allowing families to put more food in their grocery cart.
- Olo vouchers for more women and for longer
Since March, Olo practitioners have been giving out Olo vouchers for a little bit longer, for up to one month after the baby’s birth. This gesture has been greatly appreciated by families.
Furthermore, while there are over 5,000 expectant mothers who currently need Olo services and follow-up, we anticipate that the demand will increase in the coming months, well after the current crisis ends. Fondation Olo must be able to meet this increase in demand.
“Olo follow-up is more necessary than ever right now. It meets the basic needs of mothers who will experience even more insecurity and stress.” – Marie-Ève, Olo practitioner
- Resources for parents
On our blog, we have been able to offer content tailored to the current situation. The articles put online are meant to reassure parents and provide them with tools to help them plan their menus and grocery shopping and reduce waste. In addition, our nutritionists participated in Priorité Parents, a support line offering families free nutritional advice.
- Support from Olo practitioners
Dr. King rightly emphasizes that “the role of the Olo practitioners is critical during this health crisis.” They provide expectant mothers with support that is indispensable and that may be the only form of support available to them. This makes an enormous difference to the unborn child’s health. In addition to nutritional follow-up, these practitioners provide families with psycho-social assistance and pass on official information to help them sort through everything they come across on social media.
We know what an essential role practitioners play and we admire their work. So, the Fondation Olo team has busied itself adapting and adding to the support they already offered these practitioners in normal times.
“As Olo practitioners, we are practically the only form of support expectant mothers have right now. Some have no family, no support network. In addition, community organizations are closed. We are practically their only safety net. The fact that prenatal classes are no longer being given creates additional stress for them. So we do a lot of teaching. Our role is even more important during a crisis.” – Linda, Olo practitioner
- The role of grocers
We also want to mention the support provided by grocers, who have remained supportive and active by continuing to accept Olo vouchers when they often weren’t even accepting cash payments. Thanks to them, mothers can get the basic foods they need to give birth to a healthy baby. Grocers are an essential link in the Olo action chain!
Some grocers have even gone further by making donations. For instance, the campaign by Bonichoix and Tradition merchants that began in April, with special support from IGA merchants.
Our mission right now is more important than ever. Our special measures are making a difference and we are proud of the work we’ve done during this very unusual year.
But it’s not over! We need your support to continue our work and reach even more families for longer. We have relied on you from the start and we are pleased with the support received. Donate to give babies the chance to be born and grow up healthy, even during the pandemic!