April 28, 2021

Lafayette's Sister Carmen CEO to be Rep. Joe Neguse's virtual guest at presidential address

As a way of highlighting his work to fight food insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, has invited Sister Carmen CEO Suzanne Crawford to be his virtual guest at President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress.

Local food banks including Lafayette-based Sister Carmen Community Center have been working hard to provide for those in need. Crawford said her center has seen a 20% increase in food distributions and a 420% uptick in financial assistance requests during the pandemic.

Neguse plans to praise Crawford before and after the president’s address in speeches from the House floor.

Although only Neguse will be able to attend the event in person, Crawford said the recognition is appreciated.

“I think it is reflective of the hard work of not just myself but all of the staff and volunteers at the Sister Carmen Community Center,” Crawford said. “And (the recognition is) not only (reflective of) our agency, but the other family resource centers in Boulder County and statewide.”

Neguse noted Sister Carmen’s “heroic” efforts in providing digital literacy classes, along with food and financial assistance, to local community members.

Since the pandemic began, the 45-year-old center has provided more than $1.7 million in housing assistance and more than 1.5 million pounds of food, which is 250,000 more pounds than a normal year. The center also receives approximately 1,000 monthly food assistance visits.

Helping low-income families with food security has been a high priority for Neguse during the pandemic. He met with several local food banks on March 5, including Sister Carmen, to discuss assistance for them in the American Rescue Plan. The economic stimulus bill passed soon after and included a 15% increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through September, a provision Neguse championed.

“Supporting the health and well-being of Colorado kids and families must begin by ensuring that everyone has food on their table,” Neguse said in a news release. “Our food banks and long-term federal investments in nutrition assistance programs are critical to that effort.”

The financial boost has been well-received at Sister Carmen. Crawford said close to 14% of households in Boulder County did not have internet access before the pandemic, another area the center continues to target with relief funds.

Crawford said she has noticed signs of recovery with more people going back to work. But for more vulnerable populations, she believes the pandemic will take its toll for years to come. Sister Carmen will continue its support for those people.

“We were here prior to the pandemic and we will be here for as long as it takes,” Crawford said


By:  Jack Carlough
Source: The Daily Camera