Fundraiser helps to feed the hungry _lowres

Advocate staff photo by STACY GILL -- A donation of more than $3,000, made possible by Zachary High's Empty Bowls fundraiser, was given to the Zachary Food Pantry May 26. Attending the check presentation, front from left, are Carter St. Romain, John Bradley and Lane Aguillard; middle, Food Pantry Board board member and Empty Bowls contributor Tommy Daigle, Zachary Superintendent Scott Devillier, Food Pantry volunteer Roma Prejean, ZHS art teacher and Empty Bowls organizer Chloe McCleary, Lauren Bradley and Fiona Anderson; and back, Mayor David Amrhein, Cajun Catch sponsor of gumbo Paul Mier, ZHS art teacher and Empty Bowls organizer Mandy Bradley, ZHS Principal Joe LeBlanc, Raising Cane's sponsor of iced tea Sharron Ventura, Zachary Schools' Tim Jordan and Food Pantry Board President and volunteer Vince Giaccone. Not shown: Josh Hughes with Bunny Bread.

Thanks to the students who worked for months to handcraft about 400 pottery bowls for the Empty Bowls event at Zachary High in April, $3,025.51 was raised and donated to the Zachary Food Pantry on May 26.

Art teachers Chloe McCleary and Mandy Bradley organized the event, overseeing creation of the bowls for the fundraiser, which is in its fifth year.

Students sculpted, painted, glazed and kilned bowls during art classes leading up to the event, which has attendees browsing ceramic pottery bowls and dining on gumbo, bread and iced tea donated by Cajun Catch, Bunny Bread and Raising Cane’s.

“We couldn’t do this without the generosity of those three businesses,” McCleary said.

Though initially launched as a national effort to end hunger, Empty Bowls helps feed the hungry locally through the Zachary Food Pantry, which feeds more than 75 families every week.

“Many of these families have children who are now out of school for the summer and that means more food is needed,” Food Pantry volunteer Roma Prejean said. “This will be the only food many of them will get this summer.”

Vince Giaccone, Food Pantry board president and volunteer, says it’s natural for the shelves to dwindle at this time, but the pantry is always in need of donations.

“We’ll take anything, any canned good item, but we really need things like flour, sugar, cornmeal, pasta sauce and peanut butter,” Giaccone said.

Additional items needed include: cereal and breakfast bars, oatmeal, grits, rice, noodles, crackers and nutritious items.

“Things people take for granted is what we’re in short supply of and meals where you just need to add meat, like Hamburger Helper or macaroni and cheese,” Prejean said.

Items the food pantry is lacking will have to be purchased, she said.

“Our shelves are really bare right now, but the funds from Empty Bowls will help a lot. We’re very grateful to them, but we need more,” Prejean said.

To donate food or sundries to the Zachary Food Pantry, 5601 Rollins Road, call (225) 937-9916 or drop off before 11 a.m. every Tuesday.

To receive commodities, households must apply, meet certain income criteria and live within the Zachary Community School District’s legal boundaries.