BALTIMORE, Maryland — This Lent, millions of Catholics in the United States will place a colorful cardboard box at the center of their 40-day spiritual journey. The Rice Bowl, a project of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) turns 40 this Lent.

Since the project began in 1975 in a parish in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the CRS Rice Bowl has raised $250 million to fight hunger and help people rise out of poverty in the United States and overseas, according to a Jan. 16 press release from CRS.

A year after the Allentown parish initiated Operation Rice Bowl, the bishops of the United States urged Catholics to use the Lenten program as a way to respond to the famine in Africa. Participants were given a cardboard bowl to use to collect coins and donations throughout Lent.

In recent years, the program has expanded to include a CRS Rice Bowl app for cell phones and tablets and a series of cooking shows featuring Fr. Leo Patalinghug cooking meatless recipes for Lent.


 The archdiocesan Catholic Social Justice office will host a “Strike Out Poverty” Bowl-a-thon Sunday, March 15, at AMF Bowlero Lanes, 11737 W. Burleigh, Wauwatosa, from 11:45 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl. The local 2014 Rice Bowl raised $148K, with a quarter of the funds remaining in the archdiocese.

Three time blocks will be available during the event which is open to families, children, teens, young adults, adults and teams.

Preregistration required: call (414) 758-2285 or visit

CRS also distributes recipes for simple meatless meals featuring international cuisine to help Americans feel in solidarity with people around the world and to encourage them to put the money they saved by not buying meat – an average of $3 per person per meal – into their Rice Bowl to donate to CRS.

During Lent, the Catholic Herald will publish these recipes to invite readers to experience new cultures through the ingredients and flavors and invite them to become part of the Rice Bowl project.

“Lent is a time for us to come together as a global family and celebrate the gift of food. With CRS Rice Bowl we continue our Lenten traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving with recipes from five countries. They will inspire conversations around the table so we can understand what Lent means in our lives while getting to know our brothers and sisters in places like Tanzania, Nicaragua and Lebanon through their delicious food,” said Fr. Patalinghug, host of Grace Before Meals who cooks each recipe in a video series called “CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen.”

CRS Rice Bowl’s Global Kitchen can be seen on Catholic Relief Service’s YouTube channel and on

For information or to request a Rice Bowl, contact Kathy Shine, coordinator of Catholic Social Justice ministry, (414) 758-2285 or

Lenten gifts can be given online through the CRS Rice Bowl app, or can be mailed to:
Catholic Relief Services
CRS Rice Bowl
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21297-0303