Will Work for Food

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Cape May, NJ – Mary Pat Myers stands alone on an empty Cape May street. She focuses on a nearby front porch.

Within minutes, the veteran photographer has snapped a portrait of the O’Donnell family – complete with dogs.

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Myers is a master at getting kids and dogs to cooperate. While she works, she keeps her distance in this age of COVID-19. She’s never closer than ten feet from her subjects. After she gets her shots, she jumps into a waiting car piloted by her husband and heads to her next stop.

She’s on a tight schedule. Every front porch portrait she takes means another donation to a local food bank. There’s no set amount required. All Myers wants in exchange for the photo is a promise the family will give money to one of several food pantries in the area.

Food Pantries In Need

With so many people unemployed, food banks are seeing a surge in demand. Veronica Scutaro, the executive director of the Cape May Community Food Closet, says there’s been a 50% increase in walk-in traffic. The Food Closet is open every other Friday at the First Presbyterian Church on Hughes St. Because of the coronavirus, the pantry sets out clients’ food in sanitized shopping carts outside the church.

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Another group, The Branches, distributes food boxes at its Rio Grande center Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The organization also delivers food to Cape May County residents. Director Sandra Lockhart says many local people are out of work. One Wildwood man told her he hadn’t had a paycheck since March.

In Cape May, one man was so desperate he took a bus into town to get food for his family. He’d heard there was a food pantry there. But he had no idea how to find it. He stopped a stranger walking along the street and asked for directions. She pointed him to the church on Hughes St.

The stranger was Mary Pat Myers.

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The chance encounter fired up the photographer to help those in need. She heard how other photographers were doing something called The Front Porch Project. Since then, she’s shot 82 portraits, with another four dozen scheduled.

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Many in Cape May happen to have a front porch. Like the Mullock family. When the photographer arrived, they quickly gathered their children in front of the porch for their photo. The session lasted five minutes.

FYI – a porch is not mandatory. Just a smile. And a willingness to help local food pantries.

To be part of the Front Porch Project go to: https://www.mpmyersphotography.com/

To contribute to local food pantries, send a check to:

Cape May Community Food Closet
500 Hughes St.
Cape May, NJ 08204

The Branches Food Pantry
1304 Rt. 47, Unit AH
Rio Grande, NJ 08242

Saint Barnabas by-the-Bay Church Food Pantry
13 West Bates Avenue
Villas, NJ 08251

Lazarus House of Wildwood
Burke and Pacific Avenues
Wildwood, NJ

Here are Mary Pat Myers’ portraits of the Mullock’s and the O’Donnell’s.

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More Cape May Coronavirus Stories

Cape May Times News Front Page

About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.