CRS photo
CRS photo
" ... let us give for the poor in our communities and around the world this Lent. " Father Michael Kennedy diocesan director for CRS Diocese of Trenton

The annual Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program returns this Lent to the Diocese of Trenton with a new option for giving that seeks to provide local impact.

Long celebrated as a means to alleviate poverty on a global level, this year’s new CRS Rice Bowl 25 percent Initiative will allow parishes the choice of retaining a quarter of the collection for support of parish ministries working to stem hunger and need. This includes food pantries, St. Vincent de Paul conferences, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

Father Michael Kennedy, diocesan director for CRS Diocese of Trenton, announced the new giving option in a letter to parish pastors.

“If your parishioners raise $5,000 using their Rice Bowls, your parish hunger and poverty ministries get $1,250 to serve your parish community,” he wrote. “Let us pray and fast for each other and our parishioners and let us give for the poor in our communities and around the world this Lent.”

Pandemic concerns may still preclude the distribution of the traditional cardboard rice bowl collection boxes in some parishes. However, parishes can still take up a CRS Rice Bowl collection and allocate 25 percent of the funds collected to parish anti-poverty ministries.

At participants can find links to a DIY rice bowl label to attach to any container, a Lenten calendar with prayers and activities as well as Meatless Friday recipes.

The Diocese of Trenton has provided Rice Bowl Cooking videos including priests of the Diocese and nationally-known priests cooking meatless recipes from their native countries, where CRS is working on behalf of Catholics throughout the United States. To watch, visit and click on the Rice Bowl.

While there is a link for direct, contactless giving on the CRS website, this option is not a guarantee that a parish will directly benefit from the 25 percent unless participants identify their parish, and it will delay the parish’s receipt of funds. Participants are encouraged instead to turn in their CRS Rice Bowl collections to their parish office.

CRS Rice Bowl is the official relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 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 2020, nearly 14,000 Catholic parishes and schools across the U.S. participated in CRS Rice Bowl.