Catholic Relief Services is calling on Catholics throughout the United States to show their love for their sisters and brothers worldwide by participating in the annual Lenten program, CRS Rice Bowl. “Ash Wednesday always marks the beginning of CRS Rice Bowl,” said Beth Martin, CRS director of formation and mobilization. “And this year, Ash Wednesday falls on Feb. 14, or St. Valentine’s Day, and we think CRS Rice Bowl is the perfect way to celebrate the love we have for our global family.”

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” When we receive Jesus through the Eucharist, our hearts are filled with His love and the call to share that love.

“During Lent, we are meant to express the love that we feel when we receive the Eucharist through prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” Martin said. “CRS Rice Bowl gives us the means to do that — to put our love into action.”

Alms gathered through CRS Rice Bowl primarily go toward hunger and poverty alleviation programs in countries where CRS operates, however 25 percent of those funds stay in the diocese where they are collected. CRS Rice Bowl grants are given to local organizations that prioritize ending hunger and poverty in their communities.

“Love can be expressed in so many ways,” Martin said, “even through a small act such as giving up your daily cup of coffee and instead, donating that money to CRS Rice Bowl. That small sacrifice — that small act of love — can change the lives of so many people.”

Rooted in the history of the Eucharistic Congress, CRS Rice Bowl began in 1975 as a way for families in the United States to share their blessings with communities experiencing hunger throughout the world. Since its inception, more than $330 million has been given through CRS Rice Bowl to support programs that prevent hunger and poverty worldwide. Of that, $82.5 million went to programs in the U.S. through local dioceses and $247.5 million went to CRS programs overseas.

In previous years, schools and parishes participating in CRS Rice Bowl have had in-person events to collect donations saved during Lent. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many parishes have developed online community giving pages to accept alms. CRS Rice Bowl participants are encouraged to reach out to their local parishes to determine whether in-person collections will occur or if they should donate via an online community giving page.

As always, direct donations to CRS are accepted online at, by phone at 877-435-7277 or by mail to Catholic Relief Services, Attn: CRS Rice Bowl, P.O. Box 5200, Harlan, IA 51593-0700 (with “CRS Rice Bowl” in the memo line of the check).

— Catholic Relief Services

—Published in the Feb. 17-23, 2024, edition of The Inland See.