18-October-2012 -- Catholic News Agency |

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CRS Rice Bowl Program Has New Internet Component

(http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=25887)

BALTIMORE, MD., October 18 (CNA) .- Catholic Relief Services has revamped its traditional Lenten anti-hunger Operation Rice Bowl program to allow participants to register their rice bowls on the internet as part of the campaign to feed the hungry.

The program also has a new name.

"For the past 37 years during the season of Lent, Catholics in the United States participate in a popular program called Operation Rice Bowl," Carolyn Woo, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, said on Oct. 16. "Today, I am announcing that we are renaming it CRS Rice Bowl."

The rice bowl program engages almost 13,000 parishes and schools. The relief agency provides videos, stories, recipes and other materials to help those who participate understand the lives and challenges of the poor around the world.

Revisions to the program include a redesigned website accessible by cell phone and tablet. Participants can also register their rice bowls on a map. They can sign up for text messages and e-mailed stories and prayers in English and Spanish.

The rice bowl program's new theme is "For Lent, For Life -- What You Give Up for Lent Changes Lives."

Woo said the theme brings "a particularly poignant focus to the season of Lent."

"CRS Rice Bowl offers us a way we can live our faith and do our part to alleviate hunger in the world," she said.

Catholic Relief Services has committed $150 million in private funds over the next three years to agriculture, food and nutrition programs to fight world hunger. Its pledge is part of a $1 billion pledge from InterAction, a coalition of non-profit agencies.

Woo said Catholic Relief Services should not only commit funds but "strive for new solutions to address hunger."

She noted the agency's anti-hunger program in Lesotho, where it introduced "kitchen gardens" to provide better nutrition by helping people grow year-round vegetables and greens.

In Ethiopia, the relief agency introduced improved seeds. It helped connect farmer co-operatives to an export company that packaged their white beans and distributed them in Britain.

Twenty-five percent of CRS Rice Bowl donations stay in a donor's diocese, while 75 percent support overseas programs.

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