Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


CRS Rice Bowl program has new twists: an app, recipes, contest

By PATRICIA ZAPOR, Catholic News Service | Published February 20, 2014

WASHINGTON (CNS)—When trying to change one’s eating habits, especially cutting calories, there’s nothing like getting some made-to-order recipes from a popular chef to help keep one motivated.

CRS RiceBowl 50 TINT and GRADIENT PMS377At least that’s part of the thinking behind one of the new approaches to Catholic Relief Services’ annual Rice Bowl program for Lent, the 39-year-old CRS campaign to raise awareness about hunger and raise funds to combat hunger and poverty.

This year, Rice Bowl is linking to weekly recipes created by a celebrity chef of sorts—Father Leo Patalinghug, host of Grace Before Meals, a family apostolate focused around meals.

Five recipes—one for each week of Lent—and short videos about them by Father Patalinghug, a Baltimore archdiocesan priest, will be available on YouTube or the CRS website. The recipes will feature low-cost, meatless ingredients, explained Joan Rosenhauer, CRS executive vice president for U.S. operations, at a recent thematic breakfast in Washington, D.C., Feb. 5. The simple meal offered on the last day of the annual Catholic Social Ministries Gathering was noted as being typical of breakfast in the Philippines: eggs, rice, bread, juice, fresh tomato and cucumber slices.

Other elements of the program were related to relief work CRS has been doing in the Philippines since Typhoon Haiyan in November. The catastrophic event wiped out hundreds of thousands of homes, crops and much of the fishing industry in one region of the country.

Traditional dancers and a percussionist from the Philippine Cultural Society at George Washington University, Philippine craft pieces on the dining tables and other elements provided a model for how parishes or dioceses might launch their own Rice Bowl campaigns.

In addition to the recipes, CRS is providing a free Rice Bowl app available for smartphones and tablets. According to a CRS press release, the app will allow users to schedule delivery of daily reflections during Lent, set and track progress toward a Lenten goal, and view the recipes or see stories about people whose lives have been changed by the program.

Also this year, CRS will host a photo contest in conjunction with Rice Bowl. Weekly winners will receive a small fair-trade prize; a grand-prize winner at the end will receive an Easter basket full of fair-trade items.

In 2013, CRS raised more than $7 million to support Rice Bowl programs internationally. The dioceses where funds are raised keep 25 percent of the revenue for local needs.

The app can be downloaded at: iTunes and the Google Play Store or at Other information about the campaign is available at