Catholic Relief Services is gearing up for its annual Lenten program, Operation Rice Bowl, which will begin on Ash Wednesday. Each year, Catholic parishes and schools from over 13,000 communities participate in the program to assist those in poverty around the world.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) explains that each week during Lent those participating in the program make the small sacrifice of preparing simple, meatless recipes and putting the money they would have spent on a big meal into symbolic rice bowls.
Last year, Catholics raised more than $7 million through Operation Rice Bowl, 75 percent of which was used to fund hunger and poverty projects in 40 countries. The remaining 25 percent stays in U.S. dioceses to support food pantries and soup kitchens.
Additionally, participants receive a calendar which provides prayers, daily reflections, stories and learning opportunities to reinforce the program’s mission to fight global hunger and poverty.
“Having the Rice Bowl as the focal point for their Lenten observance helps families to think beyond their daily realities and to focus on making a difference in the lives of others,” says Beth Martin, program manager for Operation Rice Bowl. “The program also includes an educational component, sharing stories of people from developing countries that benefit from ORB.”