Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Faithful of the parishes and schools of the Diocese of Trenton are urged to fast, pray and give alms as they participate in the annual Catholic Relief Services’ Lenten program “CRS Rice Bowl” which begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22. Donations help provide lifesaving support to more than 190 million people in more than 100 countries – including the United States.

“The past year has been hard on so many families around the world,” said Beth Martin, CRS’ director of Formation and Mobilization. “We’ve seen an increase in global hunger because of a kind of perfect storm of multiple factors. CRS Rice Bowl is a great way for U.S. Catholics to show our sisters and brothers in these difficult situations that they are not forgotten, and that we will continue to stand in solidarity with them.”

While 75 percent of CRS Rice Bowl donations go to CRS programs around the world dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, 25 percent of the funds stay in the diocese where they are collected.

“By making a small sacrifice during Lent, Catholics and others of goodwill can be part of a larger movement to combat hunger not just globally, but here in the U.S. as well,” Martin said.

Operation Rice Bowl was created in 1975 by the parishes of the Diocese of Allentown, Penn., to respond to the crisis of famine in Africa. The following year, the program was adopted by the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops nationwide; in 1977, they voted to make Operation Rice Bowl the official program of Catholic Relief Services.

In addition to the cardboard rice bowls themselves, the program offers daily reflections, stories of hope, meatless recipes from the featured countries, bilingual posters and video collections. Resources may be found, in English and Spanish, at and