America has been celebrating the contributions of the U.S. rice industry for 18 years through the National Rice Month program sponsored by the USA Rice Federation.

Initiated by an act of Congress in 1991, National Rice Month helps increase awareness of rice and recognizes the contribution the U.S. rice industry makes to America’s economy. National Rice Mocelebrations will take place across America this September in grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and rigrowing communities.

Today, the typical American consumes an average of 25 pounds of rice per year and it's no wonder. Rice is a healthy, versatile, economical dish that is sodium- and cholesterol-free and contains just a trace of fat.

With this year's celebration of National Rice Month, there's a new reason for consumers to be excited: the Rice to the Rescue Sweepstakes! Consumers can log on to www.usarice.com/ricetotherescue for a chance to win prizes by entering their best budget-stretching meal tips using U.S.-grown rice.

The first-place winner will receive $500 in free groceries at any store; second and third place will receive $250 and $150 in free groceries, respectively, and seven runners-up will receive Aroma rice cookers. Several USA Rice retailer partners also will conduct exclusive Rice to the Rescue Sweepstakes contestfor their customers. Winning ideas will be featured in a press release and on www.usarice.com.

For more information about celebrating National Rice Month and acquiring merchandising materials, promotional items or rice recipes, visit the National Rice Month Web page.