CRS Rice Bowl donations can be lifesaving

Published: February 19, 2021

If you aren't able to pick up your CRS Rice Bowl at church this week, you can order one online. This almsgiving project encourages participants to perform a simple sacrifice by substituting a low-cost meatless meal for a more expensive one, and putting the money saved in their cardboard "rice bowl" throughout the season of Lent. As we continue to struggle through a global pandemic, it may be more important than ever to help our neighbors in need.

COVID-19 has dramatically increased unemployment and hunger worldwide, so rice bowl donations may be lifesaving for communities overseas and here at home, explained Beth Martin, director of campaign action and content for Catholic Relief Services (CRS)Donations may also be made online.

CRS is working with partners to provide emergency food rations in more than 30 countries as well promoting COVID-19 prevention and awareness. “The donations from CRS Rice Bowl allow families everywhere to overcome the hurdles placed in front of them,” Martin said. “And in the past year, there have been a lot. COVID-19 is increasing global hunger and malnutrition, and several natural disasters have left thousands without a home or without crops to feed their families and communities. Everyone everywhere has struggled.”

Every year Catholic families from 14,000 communities across the United States use nearly 4 million rice bowls, which are turned in at the end of Lent. Seventy-five percent of the money collected goes to support CRS’ humanitarian and development programs outside the United States, while the remaining 25 percent stays in the local diocese from which the donation came.

In the Diocese of Little Rock, $18,886.27 was collected in 2020 through CRS Rice Bowl. The 25 percent of this amount that remained in Arkansas ($4,721.58) was used to assist low-income people through Catholic Charities of Arkansas.

"Even though Lent basically coincided with the pandemic, and in-person Mass was suspended (at the time), I’m proud of what people sent in," said Rebecca Cargile, coordinator of CRS Rice Bowl for the Diocese of Little Rock. "I really do think it reflects well on our diocese and our (hopefully) growing sense of global awareness and solidarity."

While participants are dropping money in their rice bowls, they are also challenged to learn about the people they are sacrificing for. CRS provides prayer resources and reflections, a daily Lenten calendardigital retreat, virtual events, weekly stories of hope that introduce families from around the world and recipes from various countries for meatless meals that can be enjoyed on Fridays during Lent. These materials are designed for familiesparisheseducators and dioceses in English and Spanish. For more information, visit CRS Rice Bowl or email Rebecca Cargile or call her at (501) 664-0340, ext. 355.