It’s time to start thinking about the CRS Rice Bowl collection


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

The Lenten season begins earlier than usual this year and so does the annual Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl collection in the Diocese of Davenport.

The diocese hosted a virtual Lunch and Learn session earlier this month to get people thinking about Rice Bowl. The Lenten collection begins Ash Wednesday, Feb. 14. “We wanted to make sure to have a live event and provide a recording so parishes have an opportunity to be prepared,” said Deacon Kent Ferris, diocesan director of Social Action.

CRS is dedicated to reducing suffering and providing assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, regardless of race, religion or nationality. The Rice Bowl campaign began in 1975 to provide families in the United States with a visible expression of Lenten sacrifice, Deacon Ferris explained. Each year, 75% percent of the Lenten collection supports international hunger relief efforts. The remaining 25% benefits local organizations that ease food insecurity.


Loxi Hopkins, a longtime Social Action Office volunteer, believes the collection is a great way for youths to get involved. “Kids absolutely love it, and some of them have done really cool things with the rice bowls and raising money.” Last year, Muscatine teenager Gianna Nietzel sold cheesecakes during Lent, using a favorite recipe from family friend and educator, Pat Phillips. Nietzel raised about $1,000 for Rice Bowl and received a certificate from the diocese for her efforts.

Diocesan volunteer Glenn Leach said his parish, St. Ann in Long Grove, has seen success when youths have the opportunity to empty their rice bowls into a large basket each week during Mass. It keeps the collection fresh in parishioner’s minds, he believes. It’s also helpful when parish leaders speak about Rice Bowl during Mass at the start of Lent. Some parishes, including Ss. Mary & Mathias-Muscatine and Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace-Clinton, host Peace Soup dinners to raise money for and educate guests about CRS efforts.

The Social Action Office will distribute rice bowls and promotional materials when they are available. This year’s materials will focus on three countries with a CRS presence: Uganda, El Salvador and Indonesia. Immigrants from El Salvador live and worship in the Davenport Diocese, Deacon Ferris observes. “This is an opportunity for them to see the ways their home country continues to be supported by CRS, and they can attest to the value of what is being undertaken.” Parishes with Hispanic members will receive materials in English and Spanish.

The Rice Bowl website,, contains resources for families, parishes and schools to maximize the collection. The website features stories of hope, reflections, prayer opportunities and meatless recipes. Spanish-speakers can go to for resources. Hopkins encourages participants to follow CRS on social media.

Parishes and schools may share CRS posts on their social media pages to reiterate the importance of the collection.
There are many ways to donate, Deacon Ferris said. The diocese accepts cash and checks. Donors may also make donations online at Online donors indicate where they want the local portion to go by inputting their zip code or parish name. Parishes and schools should turn in donations as soon as possible after the collection ends, so the diocese knows how much money is available for local organizations.
A recording of the Lunch and Learn is available at

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