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 | Keishla Espinal

Bring Lent to Life Through Operation Rice Bowl

February 28, 2023 | With ongoing conflicts, extreme weather events and widespread inflation making it more difficult for families around the world to put food on the table, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) invites Catholics across the U.S. to pray, fast and give alms through its annual Lenten program CRS Rice Bowl, which began on Ash Wednesday, February 22.

“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.”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves, but we often forget the last words he says to the innkeeper, “Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.” He gives freely and wholeheartedly in equal measure to the need of the one whom he serves.

“As Catholics, we are called to serve those in need,” Martin said. “We are called to be the Good Samaritan and give freely. Almsgiving through CRS Rice Bowl is a way for us to heed God’s call and help those oversees and in our home community at the same time.”

While CRS Rice Bowl donations go primarily to CRS programs around the world dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, 25% of the funds stay in the diocese where they are collected. As families in the U.S. struggle with increases in the cost of living, supporting these same efforts here at home remains of vital importance.

“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. “CRS Rice Bowl can unite us, and when we come together to combat a problem, we can achieve far-reaching, ambitious goals like bringing global hunger to an end.”

In past years, schools and parishes participating in CRS Rice Bowl have held in-person events to collect donations saved during the Lenten season. In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many parishes established online community giving pages and several more are actively developing new donation pages. CRS Rice Bowl participants are encouraged to reach out to their local parishes to determine whether in-person collections will occur, or if they should donate via a new community giving page online. Direct donations to CRS are always accepted online, by phone or mail.

To learn more about CRS Rice Bowl visit Donations can be made by anyone on our Diocesan giving page

Each Lent, parishes, schools, and campus ministries of the Diocese of St. Petersburg participate in Operation Rice Bowl, the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) educational program of prayer, fasting, learning, and giving. Of the funds available for distribution from the CRS Rice Bowl collection, 75% funds international relief and development projects in over 100 countries where CRS is working. Twenty-five percent remains here in our diocese to fund grants of up to $1,000.00. Diocesan entities may apply yearly for assistance in funding innovative hunger and poverty alleviation efforts, justice education or start-up for CRS projects.