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CRS Rice Bowl FAQ

What is Catholic Relief Services?

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. We are motivated by the example of Jesus Christ to assist poor and suffering people in 91 countries on the basis of need, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS is efficient and effective. In 2012, 93 percent of our expenditures went to CRS programming that benefits poor people overseas. Our programs touch more than 100 million lives.

What is CRS Rice Bowl?

CRS Rice Bowl is Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten faith-in-action program for parishes, schools and families. Participating Catholics fast, pray, and give during Lent, following Jesus’ call to live in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable.

How did it all begin?

CRS Rice Bowl began under the name “Operation Rice Bowl” in the diocese of Allentown, PA, in 1975 as an ecumenical response to the drought in the African Sahel region. In 1976, the U.S. Catholic Bishops adopted Operation Rice Bowl as a national program of preparation for the 41st International Eucharistic Congress.  In 1977, Operation Rice Bowl became the official Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services.

Today, CRS Rice Bowl offers a variety of resources to bring Lenten spirituality to life for families, individuals, parishes, and schools!

What is a CRS Rice Bowl?

A cardboard or homemade Rice Bowl is the traditional tool used to collect your Lenten alms. You can also track your alms digitally with a CRS Rice Bowl app (coming soon.)

A Calendar is provided with each cardboard Rice Bowl to provide inspiration for your Lenten journey. Daily reflections, weekly prayers, meatless recipes and stories of hope from around the world will inspire you through the 40 days of Lent.

Looking for a new way to bring Lent to life? Download CRS’ first-ever mobile app and have daily reflections sent directly to your phone throughout the 40 days of Lent. Track your Lenten sacrifices, learn about this year’s featured countries, and prepare simple meals, all right from your phone!

Where can I get a CRS Rice Bowl?

Check with your parish or school to find out when Rice Bowls will be distributed. (Parishes and schools may order CRS Rice Bowl materials free of charge online or by calling 1-800-222-0025.)

You may also Make Your Own Rice Bowl and download the Lenten Calendar to get started. Also, be sure to Join CRS Rice Bowl for weekly Gospel reflections and more! Each week, read Stories of Hope from people around the world who you are helping through CRS Rice Bowl, find suggestions for weekly family activities, and get recipes for simple meatless meals you can prepare on Fridays. Or download our mobile app to get all of this delivered to your mobile device!

How do I turn in my donation?

Check with your parish or school about how your community will be collecting donations and return your Rice Bowl on the designated collection date.

You may also submit your gift online or send a check to:

Catholic Relief Services
CRS Rice Bowl
P.O. Box 17090
Baltimore, Maryland 21297-0303

Where does the money go?

CRS Rice Bowl supports hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in communities around the world, as well as in your own local community.

75 percent of your gift supports CRS’ programs around the world. Some examples include:

  • Agriculture projects help farmers improve harvests
  • Water and sanitation projects bring clean water to communities
  • Microfinance projects support small businesses
  • Mother and child health projects offer health and nutrition services
  • Education projects provide resources and training

25 percent of your donations go to hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in your own community. Contact your local CRS Diocesan Director to find out how the local 25 percent is used in your diocese.