Monte’s March raises $270,000-plus for food bank

  • Participants on Monte's March, the two day march to support hungry families in Western Mass, as they make their way towards 116 from the Amherst Survival Center. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Front left, Philip Korman, Andrew Morehouse, Monte Belmonte, and Sean Barry, lead the pack on the two-day march to support hungry families in western Massachusetts as they make their way toward Route 116 from the Amherst Survival Center. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Philip Korman, Andrew Morehouse, Monte Belmonte, and Sean Barry lead the way on Monte’s March. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Philip Korman,Andrew Morehouse, Monte Belmonte, and Sean Barry, on the two day march to support hungry families in Western Mass. —STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Monte Belmonte talks with Brian Wozniak on the two-day Monte’s March from Springfield to Greenfield to support hungry families in western Massachusetts. The group was making its way north from the Amherst Survival Center on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2018 12:01:05 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Trudging 43 miles through rain, snow and sleet is no easy task. But that’s exactly what a large contingent did on Monday and Tuesday, in the process raising at least $270,000 to fight food insecurity in the region.

The ninth annual Monte’s March concluded in Greenfield on Tuesday, where local radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte and a crew of supporters marched from Springfield to raise awareness and funds to support the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. Joined by prominent local elected officials and advocates, Belmonte’s march has already topped last year’s impressive fundraising total of $258,000.

“It’s incredible to see the work we do in the community, in the grassroots, to ensure that tomorrow folks are going to have enough food,” Belmonte, of The River 93.9, said of the efforts of all those involved.

Belmonte said the total raised was likely to increase as donations continued to pour in.

The marchers finished their first day of marching on Monday afternoon, marching down Northampton’s Pleasant Street toward downtown with the occasional honk of encouragement from passing cars.

“It’s been good,” U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, said of the march. “It started out rainy and cold, but it cleared up and here we are.”

McGovern was marching with a large walking stick and a green raincoat pulled over his head. He confessed to being tired as he finished the final leg of the first day. But the pain of marching, he said, was nothing compared to the anguish of someone suffering from food insecurity.

Easthampton Mayor Nicole LaChapelle was also present on Monday. She said the march showed the community’s dedication to good.

“I’m the fresh legs,” LaChapelle joked, alluding to the fact that she joined the march on the Easthampton line. She was one of many politicians, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Brookline, and the entire new western Massachusetts delegation to Beacon Hill, who joined for a portion of the march.

“Hopefully, it strengthens their resolve to fight these issues from the top down,” Belmonte said of local elected officials. “We could really solve this problem if we wanted to.”

On the first day alone, Monte’s March raised more than $30,000, outpacing the previous year’s first-day total by more than $10,000.

“It’s been a great day,” Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, told the Gazette.

Apart from the fundraising and raising of awareness, Morehouse said there is another important component to the march.

Most of the marchers had been walking from Springfield, spending hours together as they talked and got to know one another. And as members of the community who fight against hunger, building those relationships with one another is valuable, Morehouse said.

“Anything we’re going to accomplish as a community is built on relationships and trust,” he said.

The group made several notable stops along the way, including the Amherst Survival Center and First Congregational Church, where Guatemalan immigrant Lucio Perez has taken up sanctuary to avoid deportation.

Arriving in Greenfield, Belmonte said he and others were sore. But helping those in need makes it all worth it, he added.

“If we can provide some real help to them, it’s a real joy to do so,” he said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at
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