BALTIMORE, Md. — Every year, millions of Catholics participate in Operation Rice Bowl (ORB), Catholic Relief Services’ annual Lenten program that starts Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25. Each Lent, Catholic parishes and schools from more than 13,000 communities use symbolic rice bowls as the focal point for their prayer, fasting, and learning — and to help people living in poverty around the world.
Participants in ORB make the small sacrifice of preparing simple, meatless recipes each week, putting the money they would have spent on a big meal into symbolic rice bowls. That money goes to support CRS’ mission to fight global hunger and poverty. An ORB calendar provides daily reflections and learning opportunities — told through the eyes of people helped by the program — that reinforce ORB’s message and mission.
“Having the Rice Bowl as the focal point for their Lenten observance helps families to think beyond their daily realities and to focus on making a difference in the lives of others,” said Beth Martin, program manager for ORB. “The program also includes an educational component, sharing stories of people from developing countries that benefit from ORB.”
Last year, Catholics raised more than $7 million through ORB, 75 percent of which is used to fund hunger and poverty projects in 40 countries. The remaining 25 percent stays in U.S. dioceses to support food pantries and soup kitchens.
Since its beginning in 1975, ORB has raised more than $167 million to fund CRS’ development projects. With participation in almost every diocese in the U.S., many communities and families have adopted ORB as a way to observe Lent.
Resources and more information about Operation Rice Bowl can be found at orb.crs.org For information on the local effort, contact the Office of Justice and Pastoral Outreach (608-821-3086 or
), or go to the diocesan office's page at www.madisondiocese.org for more information.