My family loves to eat. It’s a little bit excessive and totally ridiculous sometimes. We are already planning our lunch while we are still eating breakfast, and thinking about dinner while we’re sitting down for lunch. Coming from a family of diabetics, my life has constantly revolved around food. I never noticed how important meal time was until after I had moved away for college and only got to spend time with my family a few weeks a year. Not only are they diabetic, but they are also foreign and we all know foreign families love to eat. Our family dines together quite regularly and when we do, there are twenty mouths to feed. You would think that we might run out of food sometimes but we never do. We have so much food that everyone is stuffed afterwards and we have leftovers for days.
My point is, I am often annoyed by my family for always wanting to eat! My Avo used to pile on seconds and thirds on our plates every night at dinner. She would yell at us for wasting and tell us, “eat more, there are so many hungry.” That’s because she grew up hungry and is so sweet she can’t bear the thought of her beloved grandchildren not getting enough to eat.
I have never known what it was like to have an empty stomach. My fridge and cupboards have always been fully stocked. I have always been able to pick out anything at the grocery store, have my family cook for my friends anytime I wanted to invite them to dinner, had endless snacks, and home cooked meals. I forget that there are so many people who are uncertain about when their next meal will be or where it will come from.
Working as a reporter for a news agency means that I often get the opportunity to interview and meet interesting people for stories. Lucky for me, I get to double my productivity and use my work stories for news as well as for my blog. They are usually related. My co-worker saw a CBS news story that caught her attention. I knew I had to meet the person in that story so I made arrangements.
I had the pleasure of meeting him this afternoon. He is an immigrant from Italy who feeds children in the community a five-star meal every day. His name is Bruno Serato and he arrived in America thirty years ago with no more than two hundred dollars in his pocket. Today, he is a successful restaurant owner who generously shares the gourmet food from his fine dining establishment, the Anaheim White House Restaurant, with theBoys and Girls Club in his neighborhood.
Every day Bruno brings them a home made Italian feast of delicious pastas, vegetables, and drinks. He began this program five years ago. His mother always encouraged him to give back to the community and share his good fortune. He took her advice and has seen the positive effects resulting from his philanthropy. He challenges every restaurant in the nation to follow his lead, not only feed local children, but to feed them well. Bruno strongly believes that no child should go to bed hungry, which is why he follows through no matter what, even when the economy is bad and his restaurant is not making much money. In fact, the poor economic climate has actually increased the amount of mouths he feeds. In the past three years he has gone from feeding 70 children to 150.
To this day, Bruno still honors the promise he made to his mother even though she is no longer alive. When I interviewed him he explained what it is that he does. “I have served so far, a quarter of a million children free pasta, every single night at 4 p.m. which is fresh," he said. "I make that daily just before I open the restaurant for service. It is my passion to help kids to get food before they go to bed at night. I’ve been doing this for five years this year.”
Since founding the program, he has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for the Boys and Girls Club and continues to provide meals for the 150 kids that are at the center between noon to 6 p.m. each day. The restaurant cooks twenty to thirty pounds of Barilla pasta for every drop off. I asked him what the kids’ favorite meals are and he responded, “anything with white sauce and red sauce because kids are very difficult. They don’t like green sauce!” He makes them gnocchi, penne pasta or spaghetti and delivers it himself.
I got to join Bruno and his staff on their trip to the club and watch them interact with the children. It was crowded inside and the energy was total chaos. There were kids all over the place but when they saw food being set up in the kitchen they all happily behaved and lined up to be served their dinner. Several of them gave their most sincere gratitude for the day’s dish: penne pasta with a tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
For the next hour, it was Italian family style dining. The kids were sitting together outside, talking over their food, laughing and enjoying. I asked Bruno what advice he would give to the kids and he replied, “eat pasta and listen to your mama!”
Bruno will celebrate his 30th year in America this Friday when he will have the restaurant’s brilliant chef, Eddie Meza, cook a five-course meal for the 250 people who will honor his achievements.
If you want to help Bruno’s efforts to feed the children of Anaheim, you can donate to any of the organizations that he supports. These organizations include Paint Your Heart Out, Caterina’s Girls Club and of course, The Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim. To make a donation, please address checks: Attention Caterina’s Girls Club or The Boys and Girls Club of Anaheim and mail to the Anaheim White House Restaurant at 887 South Anaheim Boulevard, Anaheim, California 92805. You can also call and ask for Bruno (714-772-1381). To find out more about Bruno Serato you can visit his website here.