Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the three pillars of Lent. Each year, Catholic families around the world participate in these practices. One such way is through the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl collection.
For more than 45 years, the CRS Rice Bowl has been a Lenten staple for American families. When you participate in the CRS Rice Bowl program, a seemingly simple cardboard box can help people in more than 100 countries around the globe, including people in need right here in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
For those unfamiliar, the Rice Bowl is a brightly colored collection box available in parishes throughout the diocese and across the country, beginning on Ash Wednesday. The bowl itself acts as a bank and comes with a Lenten calendar to help guide you through the liturgical season with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The calendar comes with daily reflections, activities, and stories to help you along your Lenten journey.
The Rice Bowl also comes with simple meatless recipes from around the world to make on Fridays, like black bean soup from Guatemala or a Haitian vegetable stew. The idea is that the money saved from not ordering out can then be put into to your Rice Bowl, while your family eats a unique meal with meaning.
The CRS Rice Bowl Website states, “Since its inception in 1975, CRS Rice Bowl has raised more than $320 million.” As for money collected in our diocese, 75 percent of the funds are used by CRS to alleviate need in more than 100 countries facing poverty and food shortage, while 25 percent stays right here, benefitting Catholic Charities.
“Catholic Charities in the diocese serves four main areas; Stability Services, Migration Services, Pro Life Services, and Counseling.” said Matt Smith, Chief Development Officer for Catholic Charities Fort Wayne-South Bend. “One area that Rice Bowl goes to support would be Stability Services to help those in immediate need. Our mission is to help all those in need as Christ would have us do.”
“The money also supports our food pantries in the Auburn and South Bend regions, and our Resource and Referral program that is available in all of our offices,” said Nicole Kurut, Catholic Charities Marketing Manager.
Anyone living in Saint Joseph County or Dekalb County can benefit from the food pantries. The Resource and Referral program also provides immediate resources to anyone finding themselves in need, whether it is through food vouchers, help finding shelter, or one of the many other offerings provided.
The need locally is increasing. “We have had about a 40 percent increase in year over year of people coming to us in need,” said Smith.
There are different groups throughout the diocese that go all out during the Rice Bowl collection. One of the unique ways that students at Bishop Dwenger High School are raising money for the CRS Rice Bowl is by hosting weekly Rice Bowl lunch events.
At these events, bowls of rice are sold for $1. All of the proceeds are donated to the CRS Rice Bowl. “Last year, our club began selling the bowls of rice at lunch,” said Cassandra Smith, Co-President of the CRS Club at Bishop Dwenger. She added, “The money goes to the Rice Bowls and helps students who fast on Fridays. The rice is made by our lunch ladies. We have students in our club who serve it. We had a pretty good turnout of students buying it last year and hope to have an even better turnout this year.”
Beth Martin, National CRS Director of Formation and Mobilization, said, “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 United States as well. 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.”
For more information about CRS, visit crs.org/get-involved/chapters-clubs.
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