We Can Actually Solve the Problem of Childhood Hunger, Says Participant’s Jim Berk

Magical Elves partners also honored at Share Our Strength gala

Participant CEO Jim Berk at Share
Alex J. Berliner/abimages

“We can actually solve the problem” of childhood hunger, said Participant Media CEO Jim Berk, one of the honorees at Tuesday night’s No Kid Hungry dinner and auction for Share Our Strength at Ron Burkle‘s expansive Green Acres estate in Beverly Hills. Participant produced 2012 docu “A Place at the Table,” which focused on families that struggle to feed their children.

Also honored were Magical Elves’ partners Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz, who produced the Emmy-winning Food Network docu “Hunger Hits Home” with Share Our Strength. “Top Chef” judge Curtis Stone joked that the pair must be “amazing storytellers” to produce so much food-focused fare, since Cutforth “doesn’t eat vegetables” while Lipsitz is a vegetarian.

Berk said that this evening might not have been the best time for him to start a gluten-free, sugar-free, wheat-free diet, as the four-course dinner featured dishes from Stone, Father’s Office chef Sang Yoon, San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardins and pastry chef Sherry Yard, with appetizers from Picca’s Ricardo Zarate, Fig’s Ray Garcia and Sotto’s Zach Pollack and Steve Samson.

But while the dinner’s well-heeled attendees can choose all manner of specific diets, the evening’s speakers such as Share Our Strength founder Billy Shore drove home the point that childhood hunger is a solvable problem. He explained that programs such as breakfast in schools can increase attendance and graduation rates, congratulating the crowd for helping the org raise $400 million to fight hunger since its inception in 1984.

“Dog With a Blog” star Blake Michael, Zoe Saldana and chef chair Mary Sue Milliken were among other supporters at the gala, which had all costs covered by Burkle. Auction items included a well-received dinner for 12 with chefs including Michael Cimarusti, Suzanne Goin and Animal’s Vinny Dotolo and John Shook; an intimate dinner at Stone’s soon-to-open Beverly Hills restaurant Maude and a guest judge appearance on “Restaurant Wars.”