- Candace Neff Director
News & Press Releases
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Operation Rice Bowl - A Lenten Tradition
Operation Rice Bowl (ORB), Catholic Relief Services annual Lenten program that begins on Ash Wednesday and contiues throughout the Lenten season, offers Catholics in the United States an opportunity to learn about our brothers and sisters living in poverty. Begun in 1975 in the Diocese of Allentown, PA as a response to the drought in the African Sahel, ORB has embraced four basic components which call for participants to 1) Pray with their families and faith communities; 2) fast in solidarity with those who hunger; 3) learn about our global community and the challenges of poverty overseas, and 4) give sacrificial contributions to those in need.
Each Lent, Catholic families, parishes and schools use symbolic rice bowls during the 40 days of Lent as the focal point for their prayer, fasting and learning. Participants fast in solidarity with those who hunger and make the small sacrifice of preparing simple, meatless recipes from developing countries each week, putting the money they would have spent on a bigger meal into the rice bowl. The money then goes to support CRS mission to fight global hunger.
Each year, Catholics raise more than $7 million through ORB. Seventy-five percent of those funds were used to address hunger in 40 countries. The remaining 25 percent stayed in the U.S. dioceses to support programs that help those affected by rising food prices in our communities.
In 2011, approximately $62,000 was raised in the Diocese of Gaylord, of which $15,276 was given as grants to 36 parishes whose requests were approved. The benefactors of these local funds included northern Michigan food pantries, St. Vincent De Paul Societies, soup kitchens and a variety of parish-based outreach ministries.
Since its beginning 37 years ago, Operation Rice Bowl has raised more than $200 million to fund development projects around the world and in local diocesan communities in the United States.
The proceeds that are received by Catholic Relief Services are used to increase food security in communities around the world:
- Agriculture projects help farmers improve crop yields.
- Water projects bring clean water to communities
- Microfinance projects encourage the growth of small businesses.
- Mother and Child Health projects provide basic health and nutrition services.
- Education projects provide resources and training.
- HIV/AIDS projects support the local Catholic Church in communities around the world in addressing the many needs of people affected by this disease.
Some may confuse Operation Rice Bowl with the Catholic Relief Services Collection that takes place the fourth Sunday of Lent. Operation Rice Bowl is not a collection, but rather a solidarity and education program with a monetary contribution component. Proceeds from ORB benefit both CRS development projects overseas, and local needs in our diocese, thus raising awareness of the connection between local and global poverty issues.
Your participation in Operation Rice Bowl helps farmers in Bolivia receive training to improve crop yields, children in Afghanistan gain more opportunities for quality education, communities in Ethiopia access reliable water sources even during times of drought, and fund many other vital projects.
Participants in ORB can learn more about the joys and challenges in the lives our brothers and sisters overseas by visiting the ORB website. By signing up for the Operation Rice Bowl Online Community, participants also receive weekly Lenten Reflections on the 2012 highlighted countries. Go to the CRS website to learn more.
Parishioners may also contact their parish for Rice Bowl materials.