THE WOMEN behind the hunger documentary "A Place at the Table" are making the publicity rounds this week - cable news shows, Jon Stewart, etc.

But perhaps their most important stop was in Philadelphia a few years back, before they'd picked up a camera, when their documentary was just a hopeful idea.

That's when they met Christina and Jeffrey Lurie, the co-owners of the Eagles, who've quietly become kingmakers in the field of documentary film.

"Christina and Jeff have a history of helping documentaries that they know can make a difference," said "Table" director Kristi Jacobson. She vividly recalls her first meeting with Christina, who came pre-loaded with an impressive amount of hunger-issue software.

"She was obviously passionate about the subject. It wasn't long after we sat down with Christina that she said, 'I'm in.' "

And when she's in, it tends to mean something.

The Luries helped fund the 2010 financial-meltdown documentary "Inside Job," which won an Oscar for best feature documentary. More recently, they backed "Inocente," which won the Oscar on Sunday for best short-subject documentary.

Christina flew out to L.A. to watch "Inside Job" win the Oscar. This year, with the younger of her two children in his final year of high school, the stay-at-home moments are more important, so she watched on TV.

"It was a shock, to be honest. We were really the underdog," said Lurie, who'd helped fund the film when it was envisioned as a global story about four homeless individuals in different parts of the world. The global focus dissolved, but the story of Inocente, a San Diego teen who used painting to lift herself out of poverty, emerged and became the Oscar-winning focus.

For Lurie, the biggest treat was seeing the young woman, after all her struggles, enjoying the spotlight.

"What a great moment, watching Inocente up on stage. It's her story, and to be on the receiving end of all the attention, was really nice."

As "Inocente" demonstrated, the movie you start with is often not the one you end up with. The process can alter a movie greatly, so Lurie likes to stay involved, helping as much as she can, careful to know when helping means staying out of the way.

"It doesn't have to be working with filmmakers in the edit room. You don't want too many chefs in the kitchen. But it's important to me that I don't just write the check. It's important to really get involved, trying to make as good a film as possible."

Sometimes it means knowing the subject, helping find the right contacts. "A Place at the Table" uses extensive local sources - Mariana Chilton at Drexel's School of Public Health, members of the city's Witnesses to Hunger campaign .

Jacobson said Lurie's input was invaluable.

"It was clear she had an avid interest, that it really struck a chord with her."

It still does.

"When you think of hunger, you think of a problem that exists in a place like Ethiopia. We're the No. 1 global power in the world, yet we have 50 million people for whom hunger is big issue. For me, that's why I wanted to get involved," she said. "Hunger in America should be an oxymoron. It's not that we don't have enough food, but what's cheap and available is not healthy."

She is especially fired up about hungry children.

"If you're hungry, you can't read, you can't learn. Think about how expensive it will be to fix the long-term problems caused by hungry children," said Lurie, rattling off stats about hungry children missing school, getting suspended and dropping out.

"The costs are limitless. Hunger-related health-care costs are estimated at $130 billion."

Christina, who split last year with husband Jeffrey, said the divorce will not affect their partnership to produce docs like "A Place at the Table."

"Those will continue. We have our foundation, and through that foundation we will continue to look for stories to tell."

Christina, however, will branch out as a producer of dramatic movies - through an L.A.-based company called Tango, she'll make movies designed to entertain and maybe even make a pile of money.

"I'm trying to make a very different kind of film fiction, something really commercial, which is something I've never gone for in the past."

The next is likely to be a horror movie, tentatively titled "Rupture," with director Steven Shainberg.

"It's a new challenge. And I think everybody needs that."