I think the Rice Bowls are just a way to get people thinking about "giving alms" as part of their Lenten observance. In the end, you are free to give to whomever you choose, so if you feel better giving to local charities, that's fine, too. I do tend to agree with you, however.
An article in our bulletin says that 75% is being sent overseas, and 25% is staying in our diocese to support programs that address hunger here.
We didn't get rice bowls this year.
As others have said, you should contribute money wherever you think it makes the most sense. I take my "tithe" and put some of it to the church and some to other organizations that do God's work.
For what it's worth, something like 75% of the money that Americans contribute to charity stays here in the U.S.; however, most of the people living in poverty in the world are *not* in the U.S. There are very few Americans living in the kind of poverty you will find in sub-Saharan Africa or Bangladesh. (When I saw "Slumdog Millionaire," for example, I couldn't even begin to fathom what it would be like to live in a slum like that - and from what I understand of people who've been to India, there are many parts that are really like that.)
Again, people can give what and to whom they like, but I prefer to put most of my money to work in organizations that help those in very poor countries. Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, and Doctors Without Borders are among those that provide direct help to the very poor overseas.