Proceeds from the CRS Rice Bowl program go to combat hunger across the globe. (Submitted photo)
Whether it is a young father in Xequemeyá, Guatemala, trying to maintain his family farm, or a couple trying to raise enough money to feed their children and send them to school in Kigali, Rwanda, Catholic Relief Services pledges to help. This year’s CRS Rice Bowl will focus on hunger issues in Guatemala, Rwanda and Bangladesh through their Lenten faith-in-action program.
Recently, CRS held an online workshop helping to train those in Catholic schools and parish ministry to promote the annual Rice Bowl collections. CRS Rice Bowl is an essential facet of CRS’ mission to serve Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters worldwide.
“CRS Rice Bowl participates in the Lenten journey to support dream leadership and the work of sisters and brothers around the world,” said Rachel Malinowksi, training advisor for CRS. “Throughout the campaign, CRS will offer virtual events, such as Facebook Live, where we will be joined by CRS colleagues around the world from CRS Rice Bowl countries. There will also be an opportunity for other leaders to hear from guest speakers. We will also feature a bilingual prayer service in English and Spanish.”
By using CRS Rice Bowl materials, families and educators can teach children about the season of Lent, Jesus’ sacrifice, and how they can help their sisters and brothers around the world while living out their faith. As part of the Rice Bowl program, 75 percent of all donations go to CRS programming in targeted countries. CRS Rice Bowl participants also have access to meatless Lenten recipes from different countries and other Holy Week resources, including the Stations of the Cross.
CRS Rice Bowl, which began in 1975, kicks off on Ash Wednesday, March 2. Each year, families from nearly 14,000 communities across the United States fill almost three million Rice Bowls with their Lenten alms. While these donations make a difference globally, they also help in the United States, as 25 percent of all donations remain in the diocese in which they were collected.
Some examples of the assistance CRS Rice Bowl provides:
- Agriculture projects that help farmers improve harvests;
- Sanitation projects that bring clean water to rural communities;
- Microfinance projects that support small businesses;
- Health projects that provide medical care and nutrition services to mothers and children; and
- Education projects that provide resources and training to youth.
According to Robert Shelledy, director of dignity of the human person and coordinator of social justice ministry, Catholics in the Milwaukee Archdiocese have historically supported CRS Rice Bowl generously.
“The U.S. overall is one of the most generous countries in terms of foreign aid. In Wisconsin and namely here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, parishioners and school children have been very giving in their support of CRS Rice Bowl,” he said. “The more awareness we provide about the good work they can be part of with the Rice Bowl donations, the more we can help alleviate hunger around the world.”
Collecting funds and donating to CRS Rice Bowl helps to fulfill all four pillars of Lent.
Using the free Rice Bowl materials, participants pray and reflect upon the realities, challenges and gifts of our neighbors around the world who are poor and vulnerable.
CRS Rice Bowl’s recipes for simple meals and fasting suggestions help participants use this traditional Lenten practice to express solidarity with their brothers and sisters who do not have enough food.
Through educational resources, online virtual tours and activities incorporating Catholic Relief Services’ work overseas, Rice Bowl participants learn about the lives of people they may never meet.
Participants put faith into action by giving of their time and resources thoughtfully. Since the program began in 1975, Rice Bowl has raised millions of dollars to assist our brothers and sisters in need worldwide.
CRS Rice Bowls are available at local parishes, and Catholics can download individual Rice Bowl labels for free online at crsricebowl.org. Materials designed for families, parishes, elementary and middle school students, high school students, universities and dioceses are also available online.