From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Portion of Operation Rice Bowl proceeds fund local anti-hunger grants

the Inland Register

(From the April 11, 2002 edition of the Inland Register)

The Parish Social Ministry Office of Catholic Charities is now accepting applications for Operation Rice Bowl grants which will support hunger and poverty alleviation projects in the Spokane Diocese.

Since 1976, U.S. Catholics have reached out to others in need through Operation Rice Bowl (ORB), a Lenten program of prayer, fasting, education and giving that supports Catholic Relief Services. By donating to ORB, faith communities, schools and individuals support Catholic Relief Servicesí development projects related to food security in over 80 countries around the world.

ORB funds support projects such as agricultural development, water systems, microcredit and small enterprise development, mother and child health programs, and education to provide participants with the resources and training necessary to improve their livelihoods.

Twenty-five percent of funds raised through ORB remain in the Spokane Diocese to support local food security programs. This underscores the link of global solidarity between those who are hungry in our own cities and towns and those who are hungry all over the world. Last year, local grants were awarded to 14 agencies in the diocese, ranging from the food pantry in Ione in Pend Oreille County, to Colfaxís Council on Aging and Human Services.

Grants are generally $500-$1,000 in size. Applicants for local grants must submit a one-page application. That application must include a description of the project, name and address of contact person, proposed beneficiaries, location and duration of the project, exact amount requested and proof of non-profit 501(c)3 status on or before April 30, 2002, to the Parish Social Ministry Office of Catholic Charities, P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210-1453. For more information, call 358-4273 or 1-800-831-1209.

Father Mike Krieg, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Spokane, reports that ORB was used to focus outreach to and solidarity with the needy in Afghanistan this Lenten season. Parishioners were encouraged to contribute a set amount to ORB in order to purchase a blanket for an Afghan refugee, or a larger amount to purchase a tent to house a refugee family. Speaking in terms of blankets and tents provided a concrete focus for the programís emphasis on learning, praying and giving.

The local grants can be used for more than the traditional model of food bank or soup kitchen. A good example is the Spokane Valley Centerís program to stabilize low-income children in their schools.

The Valley Center and the three Spokane Valley school districts have all noticed that some low-income children move frequently as their parents search for safe, affordable housing. Often, that means the children transfer to three or four different schools over the course of a single school year, sometimes crossing district lines. Each time the children enter a new classroom, they must make new friends, meet a new teacher and learn a new curriculum. The Valley Center and three school districts began to identify these homeless children, and then started to develop a program which would help stabilize the children in whichever school they began the school year.

Now, school buses from each of the school districts come to the Valley Center each morning and anywhere from 15 to 20 children are taken to the school and classroom they know, regardless of where they live in the Valley. Valley Center Director Mollie Dalpae emphasizes that itís important that the students arrive on buses similar to their classmates, that the stigma of homelessness be reduced as much as possible.

The only drawback to the program is that because of extra transit time, the students miss the free breakfast offered at the school. So, with funding from an ORB grant, the Valley Center has stepped in with breakfast for children in the program.

Those who have contributed to ORB, either through parish or individually, are eligible to participate in this yearís CROPWalk to end hunger. Join hundreds of others concerned about hunger around the world at Gonzaga Universityís Martin Center and the Centennial Trail on Saturday, April 27 at 1:30 p.m. to show support and solidarity. Call (509) 358-4273 for more information and waiver forms.

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