CONTACT: Brittany Wichtendahl, Catholic Relief Services,, 410-951-7450

Small Sacrifices Make a Big Difference each Lent with

Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl

BALTIMORE, MD – November 1, 2019 –

This Lenten season Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is asking Catholics to remember the Gospel story of the feeding of the 5,000, as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of CRS Rice Bowl. Just as the modest amount of five loaves and two fish was multiplied to be shared by thousands, small sacrifices add up to make a big difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world. This is one of the lessons CRS Rice Bowl brings to families each year when they use the popular Lenten program.

Beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020, families in the U.S. will get to know three young girls from Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya. Their stories unfold over the 40 days of Lent and each week the story reveals a different aspect of their lives, from home and mealtime, to school and their dreams for the future.

“CRS Rice Bowl is a great way for families to understand that people around the world have similar hopes and dreams but some need our support and assistance to reach those dreams,” said Beth Martin, CRS director for Mission and Mobilization. “By focusing our prayers and Lenten sacrifices on these three girls and their families, the meaning of Lent is made so much more accessible and richer for Catholic families in the U.S.”

New this year is a redesigned Lenten calendar and family guide to make it easy for families to make Lent meaningful. Over the six weeks of Lent, CRS Rice Bowl will follow Maria Ana, Yvone and Trinh through their morning routines, their time at school and meals with their families. Maria Ana, a 16-year-old from Honduras lives with her parents and four brothers in her village El Pinal. She dreams of one day becoming a nurse so she can help her family and community. Yvone is 11 years old and lives in Kenya with her siblings, cousins, grandparents and aunt. Yvone has learned about having a balanced, nutritious diet at school and was able to share that knowledge at home. Trinh, an energetic 12-year-old from Hoi An, Vietnam rides her bike every day and enjoys playing a jump rope game, tung bung, with her friends.

“We hope families will watch the videos together, read the stories and talk about what we have in common with the girls they meet, Martin said.

Every year Catholic families from 14,000 communities across the country are using nearly 4 million rice bowls for almsgiving, which are turned in at the end of Lent. Those small sacrifices really add up—raising nearly $12 million annually. 75 percent of every donation goes to CRS programming in targeted countries worldwide while 25 percent remains in the local diocese from which the donation came, supporting initiatives that help alleviate poverty.

“We can all be inspired by the miracle Jesus performed in the Gospel story of the loaves and fishes,” Martin said. “CRS Rice Bowl gives us the opportunity to experience God’s love when we share what we have with those in need.”

CRS Rice Bowl materials are designed for families, parishes, educators, universities and dioceses. They are available in print and on the web in both English and Spanish. You can also join the CRS Rice Bowl Facebook group.

Printed materials are available in English and Spanish, and can be ordered for groups of 25 or more for free. Families may also order their own individual CRS Rice Bowls. Call 800-222-0025 or visit to place an order.

To learn more about CRS Rice Bowl, visit

Editors, Reporters and Bloggers:

For photos, FAQs, social media memes, web banners, and bios please visit the CRS Rice Bowl Media Kit online.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding.  For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.