Seattle tops dioceses in Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl program

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
Photo: Courtesy Catholic Relief Services Photo: Courtesy Catholic Relief Services

SEATTLE - The efforts of every parish in Western Washington helped the archdiocese’s Missions Office earn national recognition for its work to fight hunger here and overseas.

J.L. Drouhard, director of the Missions Office, and Kelly Hickman, assistant director, were named recipients of the 2015 Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Award, given to the top diocese in the U.S. The award was presented Feb. 9 at the Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C.

With 100 percent of its parishes handing out Rice Bowls last Lent and nearly $500,000 collected to fight hunger, the Seattle Archdiocese is a “star” in the U.S. Rice Bowl program, said Beth Martin, who manages the program for CRS.

The total participation rate and collection amount make the archdiocese the top diocese in the U.S. for CRS Rice Bowl, said Joan Rosenhauer, executive vice president of CRS operations in the U.S., in a Jan. 29 letter announcing the award.

Drouhard said the award “kind of confirms this archdiocese does a lot of creative work and education around global solidarity.”

In its 40th year, CRS Rice Bowl is a Lenten program that encourages Catholics to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving to help alleviate hunger around the world and locally. Nationwide, more than 13,000 Catholic parishes and schools participated in 2014.

J.L. Drouhard and Kelly HickmanJ.L. Drouhard, director of the archdiocese’s Missions Office, and Kelly Hickman, assistant director, received the 2015 CRS Rice Bowl Award Feb. 9. Photo: Courtesy Catholic Relief Services

Drouhard said the Seattle Archdiocese has had a 100 percent parish participation rate for several years, and most of its Catholic schools take part by incorporating prayers and Rice Bowl lessons into the curriculum.

Most of the money raised through the Rice Bowl program supports CRS’ hunger-relief programs worldwide, but 25 percent stays in the archdiocese to support local hunger and poverty relief programs. “Seattle does a really good job making sure that connection is known to the people,” Martin said.

With contact people in every parish, the Missions Office can get the word out about local and international emergencies where help is needed, Drouhard said: “We want every household to know they’re connected to their sisters and brothers overseas.”

Drouhard and Hickman also administer a grant program to distribute the local 25 percent of Rice Bowl donations. Last year, 227 grants averaging $500 each were given to parishes and other organizations to help serve the poor in Western Washington.

Programs receiving grants included Society of St. Vincent de Paul groups, infant nutrition programs, homeless shelters and church food banks. More parishes are using grants to start food bank gardens, while several youth groups use their grants to feed youth in Skagit County’s migrant camps or make sandwiches for the homeless, Drouhard said. He encourages every parish in the archdiocese to apply for a grant.

“J.L. and Kelly’s commitment and enthusiasm have been contagious in the Archdiocese of Seattle, and that has had a direct impact on the lives of the most vulnerable overseas as well as in our own local communities,” CRS' Rosenhauer said.

Learn more about the archdiocese’s CRS Rice Bowl program, including how to apply for grants. Other Rice Bowl resources include meatless recipes and video stories of hope from this year’s featured countries.

This article has been corrected to reflect the total number CRS Rice Bowl grants in 2014.