Monte’s March leads the way in annual fundraiser for Food Bank of Western Massachusetts

  • With a microphone in hand, Belmonte pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield during the 11th annual march Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, in white, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. He was joined by federal and state legislators for the 43-mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, in white, pushes an empty shopping cart down Sugarloaf Street in South Deerfield to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte and his entourage walk north to Greenfield to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/24/2020 8:31:38 PM

SUNDERLAND — Pushing a shopping cart north on Route 116 Tuesday afternoon, WRSI The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte donned what he called a “bedazzmat suit” — or a bedazzled hazmat suit.

“We’re all wearing masks, and we’re all trying to be more cautious,” Belmonte said. “It seemed like a hazmat suit would be a fitting remembrance of the march in 2020.”

Tuesday was the second day of Monte’s March, the 43-mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield, held annually to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

“This is the 11th time we’ve done it, and every year we’re trying to draw attention to food injustices that people are experiencing in the four counties of Western Mass.,” Belmonte said. “Our goal is to raise money so there’s enough to eat for everybody, while at the same time advocating for change at the state and national level to better use our resources to make sure people have enough to eat.”

During a brief stop in Sunderland, Belmonte greeted students from Sunderland Elementary School, who told him they completed their own 43-minute walk on Monday. He thanked them for their efforts to raise money and awareness.

“Love your neighbors,” he told the children. Then, citing the well-known television show host, he added, “it’s as simple as everything Mr. Rogers … taught me.”

Belmonte was joined Tuesday by state and local legislators, as well as members of local nonprofits.

“I’m supporting (the march) because farmers support our community,” said Phil Korman, executive director of the South Deerfield-based Community Involved Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), who planned to walk Tuesday’s 26-mile route. “Food insecurity is up this year. Farmers are always trying to grow more for every person in their community.”

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern said he marches every year to raise awareness of food insecurity — an issue “that is not only in our community, but in our country.”

“We have tens of millions of our fellow citizens who don’t know where their next meal is going to come from,” he said. “We live in the richest country in the history of the world. We should be ashamed of that.”

Several of Tuesday’s walkers said the need is even greater this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You see this all across the country,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who drove from Eastern Massachusetts to take part in the walk Tuesday.

Locally, state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland — who was participating in Monte’s March for the seventh time — said the pandemic has “pushed the limits” on people.

“I know we’ve seen an uptick in the calls that we’ve been getting at my office,” she said. “This is an action we can take over two days to raise $365,000 to help the food bank to provide meals every single day in Western Massachusetts.”

Walking alongside her, state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, said she believes in the mission of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, who joined Belmonte for the first time Tuesday, said he felt it was especially important this year to raise awareness about the issue of food insecurity in the region.

“It’s always been an issue that’s been important to me,” Mark said. “God willing, I’ll be back next year.”




Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061
413-584-5000

 

Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy