Monte’s March: Walking 2 days, 43 miles to benefit food bank

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, in white, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield in 2020 to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The 2021 Monte’s March will be held Nov. 22 and 23. FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, in white, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield in 2020 to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The 2021 Monte’s March will be held Nov. 22 and 23. FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte passes through South Deerfield during Monte’s March in 2020. This year’s march will be held Monday and Tuesday. FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte and his entourage walk north to Greenfield in 2020 to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. The 2021 Monte’s March will be held Nov. 22 and 23. FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/18/2021 9:55:08 PM

Last year, in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents dug into their pockets to donate a record-shattering $614,000 for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts through a scaled-back Monte’s March fundraiser. Now, with a chance for a return to normalcy on the horizon, radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte is rounding up his usual strolling partners with hopes the generosity continues.

The 12th annual march is slated for Nov. 22 and 23, with Belmonte pushing his empty iconic shopping cart 43 miles from Springfield to Greenfield with U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, food bank Executive Director Andrew Morehouse, and supporters from western Massachusetts communities as they raise money to help provide healthy meals to neighbors at risk of hunger.

“This year, we’re hoping people will still feel as generous,” said Belmonte, of WRSI The River. People are encouraged to tune in and make donations to benefit the food bank while Belmonte and his fellow marchers make their way across Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.

Last year’s $614,000 was substantially greater than the fundraiser’s $365,000 goal and was almost twice the amount raised from the 2019 event. This year’s goal is $500,000. People can call 1-888-323-HOPE to donate on Nov. 22 and 23, or donate online anytime at bit.ly/3nrrS1R.

“Every single dollar goes to good use,” Belmonte said.

McGovern, who champions the anti-hunger cause, said the event is intended to raise both money and awareness that hunger is a problem in every city and town in the United States.

“It’s a call to political action,” he said from Washington D.C. on Thursday. “People don’t want hunger — period.”

McGovern said U.S. Sen. Ed Markey and former Rep. Joe Kennedy III have told him they plan to stop by.

Jillian Morgan, corporate relations officer at the food bank, said each dollar helps provide four meals.

“Monte approached us 12 years ago. He wanted to just go beyond the typical food drive,” she said. “I think that people genuinely want to be a part of the solution and also want to get further involved with the community. It’s turned into much more than a fundraiser — it’s turned into a community event.”

The march will start in Springfield’s Mason Square neighborhood, which Belmonte called a “food desert” and McGovern described as a “food apartheid,” or area with limited access to affordable and nutritious food and stores like supermarkets — a problem that disproportionately affects predominantly non-white communities.

“As painful as it is on my legs, I get to march with some really incredible people,” McGovern said.

Belmonte said the nation is at a point where it must decide whether to invest tax dollars into human infrastructure.

“It’s my belief … that we could end hunger if we, as Congressman McGovern would say, mustered the political will,” he said. “You can’t food-bank your way out of it, you can’t charity your way out of it.”




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