As part of the Lenten traditions of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, Catholic faithful are encouraged to participate in the Catholic Relief Services’ annual Rice Bowl program for those in poverty throughout the world.

The official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, CRS’s Rice Bowl Lenten collection has helped faith communities in dioceses throughout the nation put their faith into action.

Many Catholics can remember the cardboard collection boxes of their childhood for families to collect spare change throughout the Lenten season and learn about how our sisters and brothers across the globe overcome hardships like hunger and malnutrition, and how through Lenten alms, we have the power to make the world a better place for all.

Because the pandemic has changed parishes’ and schools’ abilities to distribute boxes, participants can instead visit, and find templates to create a rice bowl at home, as well as meatless recipes, “Stories of Hope” that highlight CRS’s impact across the globe, Lenten calendars, prayers and other Lenten resources. Also listed are options for how to send donations to CRS.

The resources may also be accessed through the diocesan website:

Since its inception in 1975 in Allentown, Pa., CRS Rice Bowl has raised nearly $300 million in donations. The program came about as a response to the famine in Africa, as Catholics looked for a way to provide aid. Lenten alms donated through this program support the work of CRS in more than 100 different countries each year. Additionally, 25 percent of donations to CRS Rice Bowl remain in the local diocese, supporting poverty and hunger alleviation efforts. In 2019, nearly 14,000 Catholic parishes and schools across the U.S. participated in CRS Rice Bowl.