Media CenterSmall Sacrifices Can Make a Big Difference this Lenten Season

Photo by Lauren Carroll/CRS

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Brittany Wichtendahl
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(410) 951-7450


BALTIMORE, MD, February 26, 2020 – This Lenten season Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is asking Catholics to remember the Gospel story of the loaves and fishes, as we celebrate the 45th anniversary of CRS Rice Bowl. Just as the modest meal of five loaves and two fish fed thousands, small sacrifices can make a big difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world.

CRS Rice Bowl, the Lenten program that started in 1975, will begin today, February 26, 2020, Ash Wednesday. The 45th anniversary of CRS Rice Bowl offers something new this year, as we get to know three young girls from Honduras, Vietnam and Kenya during the 40 days of Lent. Each week will feature a different aspect of their lives, from home and mealtime, to school and their dreams for the future.

“Rice Bowl is a tradition for so many families and we know people look forward to learning about the places where we work and the people who live there,” said Beth Martin, director of campaign action and content. “But there is so much more to their stories, and this year you are going to see and experience more about what their lives are like.”

Over the six weeks of Lent, CRS Rice Bowl will follow Maria Ana, Yvone and Trinh through their morning routines, schooltime and mealtime with their families. Maria Ana, a 16-year-old from Honduras lives with her parents and four brothers in her village El Pinal. She dreams of one day becoming a nurse so she can help her family and community. Yvone is 11 years old and lives in Kenya with her siblings, cousins, grandparents and aunt. Yvone has learned about having a balanced, nutritious diet at school and was able to share that knowledge at home. Trinh, an energetic 12-year-old from Hoi An, Vietnam rides her bike every day and enjoys playing a jump rope game, tung bung, with her friends.

Every year families from 14,000 communities across the country are using nearly 4 million rice bowls for almsgiving, which are turned in at the end of Lent. Those small sacrifices really add up – 75% of every donation goes to CRS programming in targeted countries worldwide while 25% remains in the local diocese from which the donation came, supporting initiatives that help alleviate poverty.

“We can all be inspired by miracle Jesus’ performed in the Gospel story of the loaves and the fishes,” Martin said. “CRS Rice Bowl gives all of us the opportunity to experience God’s love when we share what we have to those in need.”

Along with the stories of Maria Anna, Trinh and Yvone, CRS also brings speakers to parishes around the country to explain how CRS Rice Bowl-supported programs are changing lives.

CRS Rice Bowl materials are designed for families, parishes, educators, universities and dioceses. They are available in print and on the web in both English and Spanish. You can also join the CRS Rice Bowl Facebook group.

Printed materials can be ordered for groups of 25 or more for free. Call 800-222-0025 or visit to place an order.

To learn more about CRS Rice Bowl, visit

Editors, Reporters and Bloggers:
For photos, FAQs, social media memes, web banners and bios please visit the CRS Rice Bowl Media Kit online.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, visit or and follow Catholic Relief Services on social media in English at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube; and in Spanish at: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Brittany Wichtendahl
February 26, 2020