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Relief & Development


Catholic Campaign For Human Development

Catholic Relief Services

CRS Coffee Project

Holy Childhood Association

Operation Rice Bowl

Work of Human Hands

Food Fast



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Catholic Campaign for Human Development
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD)is the domestic anti-poverty, social justice program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Its mission is to address the root causes of poverty in America through promotion and support of community-controlled, self-help organizations and through transformative education. The grants, economic development, and education for justice program of the Campaign, implemented in collaboration of with local dioceses, is supported by the annual collection received each November. For more information please go to the CCHD section of our website.


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Catholic Relief Services

An outreach of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services has been working to alleviate poverty, hunger and suffering since 1943. Those who suffer from the effects of war, famine and deprivation look to CRS for life-saving support and hope knowing that need, not creed, is the only criterion for assistance. CRS works with the poor in over 75 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Even while responding to emergencies, CRS helps local communities identify long-term solutions to poverty. CRS supports over 2000 development projects designed to build self-sufficiency. The American Bishops Overseas Appeal is the Diocese of Joliet's annual collection for CRS.


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Operation Rice Bowl 



Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl seeks to instill within the student a sense of solidarity with the poor of this world. Solidarity is one of the seven core values of Catholic social teaching. The program's four components have a rich history in our Catholic faith.


Prayer: When we pray for others, we grow closer to them.


Fasting: Fasting has been a symbolic act of prayer since early Christianity. By fasting, we share the suffering and hunger of the poor, gaining a clearer understanding of them and growing in solidarity.


Education: To understand and empathize with the poor, it is necessary to learn about their condition. Through Operation Rice Bowl, the student learns about the reality of the poor through stories, facts, and sharing. The teacher is provided with lesson plans and resources.


Almsgiving: Alms are a special way of building solidarity. Operation Rice Bowl alms help the poor grow their own food, increase their income, and escape abject poverty. Operation Rice Bowl is a simple yet effective program that enables teachers to educate and inspire students to solidarity with the poor.


Operation Rice Bowl projects are designed to alleviate suffering in the short term while laying a foundation for permanent change. Twenty-five percent of the alms given to Operation Rice Bowl during Lent remains in the diocese for local poverty efforts.

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Work of Human Hands 

Work of Human Hands is a project initiated by CRS that provides vital, fair income to third world people by selling the handicrafts in North America. Work of Human Hands works with artisans who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed. This effort helps improve the economic situations of an estimated 50,000 handcrafters by providing income that can pay for nutritious food, education, health care and housing. Work of Human Hands encourages crafters to develop their skills and helps craft groups establish self-sustaining business the provide steady employment. The mission of WHH is to glorify God by serving people; to help the poor in obedience to the teaching of Jesus; to be sign of God's continuing love and care. The sponsoring of a WHH craft fair is one way to help meet human needs around the world. Parish festivals, Christmas bazaars, school projects,  and other events are perfect opportunities to sponsor a sale of international Handicrafts. There is no risk or cost to your parish or organization to participate.


Educational Kit

Your school can take part in the program by ordering a free Work of Human Hands education kit. The kit offers high school lesson plans that focus on Catholic Social Teaching, consumer rights and responsibilities,and worker justice. Through a variety of stories and activities, students will:

  • Develop a greater understanding of what life is like for many people in developing countries.
  • Recognize that work is a basic human need and right.
  • Understand that they can produce social change by the choices they make as consumers.
  • Understand the interrelatedness of employers and employees and the responsibilities each has toward the other.
  • Develop a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the people and culture of developing countries.

Students can supplement their learning by holding a sale themselves and  broadening the awareness of the whole school community.

To order a Work of Human Hands educational kit, please e-mail  Please list your parish or school name, diocese, and complete address.

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Food Fast Hunger Awareness Program

24 Hours That Last a Lifetime

Program Overview

A 24-hour experiential hunger awareness program, Food Fast challenge participants to help reduce world hunger and poverty through prayer, reflection and action. Food Fast calls participants to make an active commitment to their brothers and sisters around the world who are hungry and join in solidarity with other members of the human family.

Gain for Participants of Food Fast

Food Fast participants enhance their understanding about the root causes of hunger and its impact on people around the world. The experience of fasting in solidarity with the poor provides participants with first-hand knowledge of what it feels like to be hungry and raises awareness can raise the consciousness of others about the issue of hunger and things we can do to help.

Who Can Participate?

Food Fast is designed for youth in grades 8-12 and can be used in high schools, youth ministry, and religious education programs. College campuses and young adult groups can also adapt the materials for their use.

How Does Your Support of This Program Make a Difference?

Participation in Food Fast raises the awareness of community members and others by the example of the participants. Some groups collect canned foods during their fast to donate to a local food pantry. In addition, the money saved by not eating can be shared with those in need. Food Fast contributions sent to CRS are used for food security, hunger relief programs.

Program History and Success

Food Fast was first developed in 1987. The program was revised in 1995 and has grown from 420 groups participating in that pilot year to over 1,200 groups in 1998. In preparation for the Jubilee and the Year of Charity 1999, the Pontifical Council Cor Unum selected Food Fast as one of the 100 Plus Projects of the Holy Father. These projects are chosen because they foster charity through solidarity, and promote development and progress that unites people of goodwill and highlights those in need.

Can I Get More Information or Guidance About This Program?

Materials for this program include a detailed Coordinator's manual with a poster, checklist, activity instructions, and worksheets to use and prepare for your event. Buttons and prayer cards are available in bulk quantities for the participants. Call 1-800-222-0025 for your free materials.

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Order CRS Fair trade coffee



Catholic Relief Services and Equal Exchange invite you to visit a new website,, where you will find information about the CRS Coffee Project, a parish-based initiative that offers people in the United States a way to live their faith in solidarity with farming communities around the world, simply by buying and drinking fair trade coffee, tea and cocoa.



The Catholic community has always been vital to Equal Exchange's success in building fair trade for small-scale farmers and their families. Numerous religious orders are lenders and investors with the company and over 300 Catholic parishes, schools and organizations have ordered coffee, tea, and cocoa through Equal Exchange. Catholic Relief Services looks forward to expanding that number and joining with the more than 7,000 places of worship across the United States who are connecting faith and fair trade through Equal Exchange's Interfaith Program and partnerships with faith-based relief and development organizations such as Lutheran World Relief and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

Through the CRS Coffee Project, Catholics and others of good will in the United States can express their faith and values by making conscious consumer choices, ones that place people and the environment ahead of profits, and by amplifying the voices of coffee farmers around the world.

Get Involved

  • SERVE fair trade coffee, tea and cocoa after mass and at special parish events.
  • SELL the products to parishioners, for use at home, or as fundraising projects for the parish.
  • EDUCATE about fair trade and other economic justice issues in Sunday school, small faith communities, at parish council meetings, youth gatherings and other events.
  • ADVOCATE for just trade policies and practices,
  • SPEAK to local businesses about offering fairly traded coffee, tea and cocoa from Equal Exchange.

Together CRS and Equal Exchange are committed to increasing the demand for fair trade coffee in the United States, supporting the development of small-scale farmers in coffee growing regions, and connecting communities in the United States with communities around the world. The CRS Coffee Project provides an excellent way to make this commitment tangible, one cup at a time.

For more information about the CRS Coffee Project and how to order fair trade coffee, tea, and cocoa, visit






Steps Toward Eliminating Poverty


STEP: Steps Toward Eliminating Poverty is the name of the new anti-hunger, anti-poverty program of the Diocese of Joliet’s Peace and Social Justice Ministry. Four key aspects or “steps” in the struggle against poverty are included in STEP … prayer, education, charity and justice. (read more)


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 1 in 6 children in America are living in a state of poverty --

For further information on any of these programs email And please also visit our missions department for opportunities to place yourself directly in relief and development work overseas and here at home.



Copyright 2005 | Peace and Social Justice Ministry