Zachary High School students have been busy sculpting, painting, glazing and kilning pottery bowls to get ready for the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser that benefits the Zachary Food Pantry and the hungry in the community.

This is the fifth year for the event that has raised an average of about $3,000 annually since it began at ZHS.

The idea behind Empty Bowls, an international grass-roots effort to raise money and awareness in the fight to end hunger, involves art students handcrafting pottery bowls that are sold during a one-night event.

Zachary art teacher Chloe McCleary, who spearheads the local effort with help from fellow art teachers Megan Buccere and Mandy Bradley, gets her students involved in the project.

“Some of these kids are gifted artists already, and their creativity year after year making these bowls never ceases to amaze me,” McCleary said.

McCleary’s classroom has bowls scattered about in various stages of pottery production. Some are drying, some are glazed, some are shiny and ready to sell, while others are still in the molding and sculpting phases.

Before Easter break, a visit to the classroom had one student sculpting an elephant-footed planter, another molding a small turtle bowl and yet another student painting various fruit on a bowl he had designed.

Other students were painting while others were involved in the glazing process.

All proceeds from Empty Bowls will help stock empty shelves at the Zachary Food Pantry.

“It’s not unusual to have some empty shelves. We see this drop every year between Thanksgiving food drives and spring and summer food drives,” Reggie Dykes, Zachary Food Pantry director, said.

Scheduled for 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. April 16 in the ZHS cafeteria, Chris’s Meats/Cajun Catch will provide chicken and sausage gumbo, Bunny Bread will offer a roll, and Raising Cane’s will supply the iced tea.

In addition to the meal, the $10 ticket allows attendees to select one handcrafted pottery bowl that they get to keep as a reminder of all the other bowls in the world that are empty, McCleary said.

McCleary said 400 bowls have been made by the students but 250 tickets will be available. “Once they’re gone, they’re gone.”

“We are trying to reach a $3,000 goal and will accept donations from those who can’t attend,” said McCleary. “But only a ticket will ensure a bowl and meal.”

McCleary said a $10 donation stretches into about $100 worth of food at the Food Pantry.

Music and a silent auction featuring student artwork will be showcased at the event with students manning the meal lines, providing the entertainment and collecting tickets at the door.

Tickets are available at the Bank of Zachary’s main branch, Chris’s Meats/Cajun Catch and the front office at ZHS.

For information or to donate to the Empty Bowls fundraiser, call McCleary at (225) 654-2776.