Documentary film explores the needs of hungry children


Elmo, the Sesame Street character, was to have added star power at First Baptist Church in Vineyard Haven Tuesday, but he got stuck in makeup or something.

It didn’t matter, because Josephine and Jonathon Chivers stole the spotlight anyway.

The Chivers family, including dad Jonathon, are a poster family for the Sesame Street-sponsored documentary on food insecurity, which will air on Sunday, October 9, at 7 pm on PBS.

The Chivers children will join other kids around the nation who will address fear of hunger in our country, according to Academy Award-winning director Cynthia Wade. Working on-Island with producer Tim Speidel and a Sesame Street camera crew, Ms. Wade told The Times that kids’ voices are critical.

“This is a story for children and needs to be told in children’s voices from a child’s perspective,” Ms. Wade said. Ms. Wade won an academy award in 2008 for “Freeheld,” the true story of a woman denied pension benefits as she was dying.

As Serving Hands director Betty Burton buzzed around the parish hall setting up her weekly food distribution ensemble, Mr. Chivers explained why his family participated in the documentary.

“We came here a year ago from Jacksonville, Florida, without housing or a job. The support we received from the Island community was terrific and allowed my children to eat properly last winter. I am not kidding. The refrigerator would have been bare.

“Now I’ve got a job. We just moved into affordable housing at Morgan Woods. Participating in this is the best way we can think of to give back for the help we’ve received,” he said.

The big scene involved the kids selecting a collection of food, including fresh vegetables picked by the children Monday morning from Island donor farms for delivery to an Island resident who was unable to get to the Serving Hands distribution.

Dad, watching the tableau, murmured “We have been so blessed.”