By SAMANTHA SMITH | Published March 5, 2020
ATLANTA—Catholics are encouraged to pray, fast and give during the Lenten season. One way to give alms is through the annual rice bowl program, sponsored by Catholic Relief Services (CRS).
“CRS Rice Bowl provides resources to bring Lenten spirituality to life for families, parish and school communities, while continuing to connect Catholics in our archdiocese with our global human family,” said Bishop Joel M. Konzen, SM, diocesan administrator for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
The Lenten rice bowl has been a tradition for more than 40 years, beginning with “Operation Rice Bowl,” created in 1975 by U.S. Catholics to respond to famine in Africa. Since then, it has become an annual tradition for millions of Catholic families. In 2019, nearly 14,000 U.S. Catholic parishes and schools participated in the program.
CRS Rice Bowl invites participants to consider the needs of the hungry around the world, said Bishop Konzen. Donations received through the program help to alleviate hunger and poverty in communities all over the world and in the United States. Funds are provided for up to 45 countries where CRS provides humanitarian response and programs.
While 75% of the funds are used to help communities in need, 25% of donations are returned to each archdiocese to support hunger and poverty programs. In the Atlanta Archdiocese, the money is used to support Starve Wars at the Eucharistic Congress and the annual Good Friday Pilgrimage during Holy Week.
Additional funds support programs throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta. This includes a video project on food deserts at Queen of Angels School in Roswell and a food pantry project at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School. At Marist High School in Atlanta, funds have supported a “Share the Journey” pilgrimage to learn more about refugees in Clarkston and a fair trade coffee counter called “Back to the Grind.”
“We are always looking for opportunities to help fund hunger initiatives,” said Kat Doyle, director of Justice and Peace Ministries for the Atlanta Archdiocese. “We would love to see parishes submit grant applications for events, speakers and programs that help raise awareness about local or global hunger, offer education on topics such as nutrition, diet and food/water security and provide opportunities for advocacy and expanded ministry.”
Parishes and schools can apply for CRS Rice Bowl grants for various projects related to poverty and hunger online with Justice and Peace Ministries.
“Together, we can respond to Christ’s call to help those in need and ensure everyone reaches his or her God-given human potential,” said Bishop Konzen.