Operation Rice Bowl kicks off Lenten almsgiving to help those in need locally and around the world

February 22, 2011

HOUSTON — Lenten almsgiving is a tenant of the Catholic faith, but with so many in need, it's often hard to decide to whom or what one should give. Catholic Relief Service's Operation Rice Bowl is an annual Lenten program which begins on Ash Wednesday, March 9. 
Operation Rice Bowl encourages participants to enhance their Lenten spiritual journey by learning more about our brothers and sisters around the world and increasing awareness of those who are in need. Through prayers from a Lenten Calendar, preparing weekly meatless recipes and setting personal goals for Lenten sacrifices, one can demonstrate solidarity with those who experience global hunger and poverty through Operation Rice Bowl.

Contributions to Operation Rice Bowl support CRS projects around the world to help fund development programs designed to increase food security around the world and support hunger and poverty alleviation efforts in dioceses within the United States. Each year more than $8 million is raised through CRS' Operation Rice Bowl, 75 percent of which is used to fund hunger and poverty projects in 40 countries. The remaining 25 percent stays in the U.S. dioceses to support food pantries and soup kitchens.

"This is a versatile program that can be done in the home, classroom or parish and is a wonderful way to enhance the Lenten experience," said Hilda Ochoa, Mission Office director for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. "It is based off of the three pillars of Lent: prayer, [almsgiving] and fasting while also incorporating a learning component — to learn about other countries and their everyday challenges." 

Included in the Operation Rice Bowl materials is a calendar providing daily reflections and learning opportunities for 40 days of Lent told through the eyes of people helped by the program and reinforcing CRS' message and mission to fight global hunger and poverty. 
The 2011 theme "We Are Disciples for All Nations" incorporates the observance of Lent by using symbolic rice bowls as the focal point for prayer and fasting. Each year Catholic parishes and schools from more than 13,000 communities participate in Operation Rice Bowl and for 35 years Operation Rice Bowl continues to invite those to pray with our families and faith communities; fast in solidarity with those who hunger; learn more about our global community and the challenges of poverty overseas; and give sacrificial contributions to those in need.

"Operation Rice Bowl is based on solidarity, in helping our brothers and sisters who are most in need. It is about finding a way to live like Jesus' disciples in that we are helping others," said Ochoa. †