Two girls holding two small boxes
Photo by Karen Kasmauski for CRS

Five decades ago, Catholics in the United States wanted to respond to famine in Africa. Could people who were hungry be helped through Lenten prayers, fasting and almsgiving? Yes! The help came in the form of a small cardboard box, marking the beginning of “Operation Rice Bowl” in 1975 in parishes in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

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In preparation for the 41st Eucharistic Congress in 1976—which explored the Eucharist and the hungers of the human family—Operation Rice Bowl was adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as a national program. In 1977, they voted to make Operation Rice Bowl the official program of Catholic Relief Services.

Today, CRS Rice Bowl is a tradition for millions of Catholics in the U.S. who continue to answer the call of supporting families experiencing hunger around the world.

Thank you for joining us in changing lives!