The following comes from a Jan. 15 story on the site of Catholic News Agency.
Bruno Serato, originally from Verona, Italy, where he grew up as one of seven children in a poor family, moved to the United States over 30 years ago and began to work as a dishwasher, but within 5 years had become the chef and owner of his own restaurant, the Anaheim White House, which is now a high-end restaurant in the area.
In 2003 the chef created “Caterina’s Club,” a project named after his mother that raises money for underprivileged children.
When Serato’s mother came to visit him in 2005, he took her to the local Boys and Girls Club, which is the main recipient of his clubs charitable funds, and while they were there they encountered a young boy eating a bag of potato chips for dinner.
It was then that they learned of the situation of the “motel kids,” which is a common phenomenon in the area where low-income families are unable to pay rent for an apartment, and are forced to live day-to-day in cheap hotels.
When they heard this, Serato recalled that his mother told him “Bruno! Go back to your restaurant and make all of these kids dinner!” which he did, and has done every night since.
“I continued to feed them because I thought to myself, I don’t have a warm meal just one night a week, or a few times a month,” he explained, “I eat dinner every night, and so do you. So these kids, they are going to eat every night!”
In 2011 Serato was nominated as one of CNN’s “Top 10” local heroes for feeding over 200 children pasta every night as an out-of-pocket expense. Since then publicity about his project has grown, and he now feeds over 1,000 children each night, operating almost 100 percent off of donations….
Sharing the story of a family of six who lived in a motel for 12 years, Serato recalled that he originally met the family’s son, Carlos, at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I soon realized he was part of the Boys and Girls Club’s Motel Outreach Program,” the chef recalled, stating that after learning “what a motel family was,” he “learned that Carlos has been living in a motel his entire life, and had known nothing different.”
“His parents had been stuck in the motel situation for 12 years, paying more monthly than they would if they were in an apartment or town home,” he explained, adding that “the only thing restricting them and their children from getting out of the motel life was a down payment.”
Being moved by the family’s situation, Caterina’s Club found “a good place for them,” and once the paperwork had been finalized, the chef “provided them with the down payment that had been holding Carlos and his family in a motel for 12 years.”
….Serato observed that he is also “a good friend” of the Bishop of Orange County, Kevin Vann, who writes about and promotes the chef’s efforts in various ways throughout the diocese.
To read the entire story, click here.
Feeding people has been an important part of Christianity since Christ performed the miracle of the loves and fishes. All of the houses of worship clients of mine have a policy of donating leftover food from events to homeless or battered women shelters. Most of these won’t take potluck leftovers for food safety reasons but feel that from an institution which got it from a local caterer it’s OK. Most places order more than they need to avoid running out. If this kind of thing is practical for your parish, please consider it.
Bruno is a modern day saint….may we all respond to the call to help the poor as he is.
God bless him for doing his part. Hopefully it will inspire others. When my eldest was in high school, there were a few kids who didn’t eat decent meals. So my home became the meal home for some of their friends. Some were the kids who were out all day, riding their skateboards and they were super hungry. It didn’t seem like the parents were not able to feed them, I think they were just neglected a lot of times. I kept reminding my kids to appreciate what they have because there are others who are worst off or there are kids who don’t have parents who are attentive to their kids needs as they have it. Unfortunately my eldest took that for granted, hopefully she will mature someday and appreciate all the love she was given.
ummm… don’t mean to be a party-pooper here, but I just looked at Amazon for some of the “cookbooks” he’s authored. Rather racy covers, I must say. I’m praying that his motives stay pure.