March 25th, 2011
10:15 AM ET
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In the shadows of Disneyland, often referred to as the "happiest place on Earth," many children are living a reality that's far from carefree.

They are living in cheap motels more commonly associated with drug dealers, prostitutes and illicit affairs.

It's the only option for many families that are struggling financially and can't scrape together a deposit for an apartment. By living week to week in these cramped quarters, they stay one step ahead of homelessness.

"Some people are stuck, they have no money. They need to live in that room," said Bruno Serato, a local chef and restaurateur. "They've lost everything they have. They have no other chance. No choice."

While "motel kids" are found across the United States, the situation is very common in Orange County, California, a wealthy community with high rents and a large number of old motels. In 2009, local authorities estimated that more than 1,000 families lived in these conditions.

When Serato learned that these children often go hungry, he began serving up assistance, one plate at a time. To date, he's served more than 270,000 pasta dinners - for free - to those in need.

Read Making sure 'motel kids' don't go hungry

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Filed under: Hunger • Local Heroes

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soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Canada Goose Women S Vest

    He suggests you leave here at once.To be careful!Fasten your seat belt.He talks as if he were the head of the office.We are divided in our opinions.He invited me to dinner yesterday.He invited me to dinner yesterday.What's up? Did you miss the bus? You can't go in no matter who you are.
    Canada Goose Women S Vest

    November 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  2. David Lewis

    As city budgets run dry and tax bases shrink during this so-called "Great Recession," we have less and less capacity to take care of the general welfare of the needy. A little education goes a long way when funds are scarce. Having less children in times of stress is the prudent choice...especially when parents can't offer the gift of a GOOD life and, instead, have only the option to offer a gift of life with suffering and insecurity attached to it; selfish, irresponsible, ignorant.

    March 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
  3. David Lewis

    You know what can correct this problem? Birth control. It really is selfish to give birth to a child who is not allotted some security and comfort in life. It's irresponsible. Yell at me all you want, but it's true. Do not bring a human life into this world until you can secure his or her meals, home, future. It's absolutely great what Bruno Serato is doing for these children, but this is but a fraction of the starving children in the United States...let alone in the rest of the world. There aren't enough Bruno Serato's to go around. I really don't see how it is humane to avoid birth control and to avoid abortion and to go ahead and give birth when parents can't afford to offer security to a child. It looks like inhumane, indecent suffering to me. I can't believe people are ok with this. It's unfair to the children.

    March 27, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • Hannibal

      Great idea, David Lewis. I expect to see you walking door-to-door, Mormon-style, spreading the gospel of birth control from motel to motel, hood to hood, project to project. you can wear a little kangaroo pouch with condoms and morning-after pills. It'll be easy, and you'll in no way be intruding on the most sacred aspect of a human being (hint: it's giving life to another human being). I'm sure everyone will be comfortable with you talking to all the 15,16,17,18 and 19 year olds in the neighborhood about sex, reproduction, coitus, penetration, hormones, etc. No, that wouldn't be creepy at all, no.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  4. Hannibal

    He needs to put some broccoli or spinach in them chits, get some fibre circulating through those esquincles!

    March 27, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  5. Jackie

    Does anyone know the name of Bruno's restaurant? I will be in Anaheim for a few days and want to give him some well deserved business. Thanks.

    March 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Patricia

      Anaheim White House Restaurant ( I'm sure he'd appreciate your business.

      April 2, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  6. Ronald

    God love Bruno Serato, we all should have a big heart like this man, and care for the ones that will be there for us when we can't do for ourselves,me and God loves this man.he gives and cares about the people that need, and are not able to have this at home, we should all take a look at this man and try to help our future. and our kind we are all human and need to take care of one an other.Mister Bruno Serato you are the best.Ron.

    March 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  7. Snowbunny

    Oh this just sickens me. How sad. :( Hopefully their parents can get back on their feet. No child services to live among prositutes and drug dealers.

    March 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  8. The Witty One

    Cheers to this guy. It's nice to hear about people helping people.

    Now can I have some more information on these seedy drug and prostitue ridden motels?

    March 25, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants


      March 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
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