Operation Rice Bowl involves prayer, learning, charity

Kent Ferris, director of social action for the Diocese of Davenport, left, stands near a water well project in the Diocese of Harar, Ethiopia. HCS stands for Haraghe Catholic Secretariate.

By Kathy McCoy

Diocesan Social Action Director Kent Ferris traveled to Ethiopia and Tanzania last fall on a Catholic Relief Services trip and saw some of the development projects funded by Operation Rice Bowl donations. 

Ferris visited mountain villages where Catholic Relief Services (CRS) helped local villagers find springs and build a system of pipes that could bring clean water to villages for drinking and for irrigating crops.  Ferris visited growing projects that helped local farmers learn more advanced farming skills and improve the productivity of the land that most of them still cultivate by hand.

Also during the trip, Ferris visited an HIV/AIDS clinic where staff was successfully treating HIV/AIDS patients by using a combination of anti-retroviral medications and nutrition assistance. Previously the patients were not improving when they returned home until workers realized that many of the patients were not eating regular meals. By providing nutrition assistance, clinic workers saw dramatic improvements.

Now, many patients are again supporting and caring for their families.


Ferris says, “The Operation Rice Bowl Campaign is as much about praying and learning about the struggles of those who are suffering as it is about almsgiving. Lent is an excellent opportunity for us to be in solidarity with the world’s poor and then through prayer, fasting and learning, to decide how we personally can respond to the needs of those who are suffering.”

This Lent, parishes in the Davenport Diocese and across the United States will distribute Operation Rice Bowl materials that will provide individuals with ideas for prayer, learning, fasting and giving to those in need.

Seventy-five percent of the funds collected will be used by CRS for development projects around the world.  Twenty-five percent will remain in the Davenport Diocese to fund programs that help alleviate hunger and poverty within the diocese. All projects, whether at home or overseas, must be consistent with Catholic Church teaching. 

During Lent, CRS also holds its annual fundraising collection to support its work in disaster relief, advocacy and humanitarian assistance around the world. CRS is an organization of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to assist wherever there is a need to help.

Organizations receive Rice Bowl grants

Last year the Diocese of Davenport awarded seven Operation Rice Bowl grants to organizations that provide direct services to alleviate hunger and poverty within the Davenport Diocese.  In 2010, $10,300 was available from the 25 percent local share of the Operation Rice Bowl collections. The following organizations received grants:

• Café on Vine, Davenport, $1,000 for operating expenses

• Bag of Blessings, Muscatine, $400 for food to fill backpacks for students in need over weekends during the school year

• Friendly House, Davenport, $1,000 to purchase food for its holiday basket program

• Project Renewal, Davenport, $1,500 to purchase food for the summer youth program and healthy snacks for the after-school program

• Sacred Heart Clothing Center, Davenport, $1,000 to help with relocation expenses of the free clothing center run by the parish

• Loaves and Fishes, Muscatine, $500 to help purchase food and supplies for its free meal site

• St Mary parishes, Lone Tree and Nichols, $700 to help fund hot meal delivery for elderly parishioners and other emergency food needs

• Diversity Center of Iowa, Muscatine, $1,000 to fund a monthly meal for Hispanic senior citizens 

• St. Mary’s Parish, Centerville, $800 to help fund a free lunch site for adults who attend with their children during the summer

• Helping Hands Food Pantry, Knoxville, $2,400 to help with food and renovation costs of food pantry and homeless shelter

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