In 13th year, Monte’s March rakes in $482K to fight hunger

  • Walkers participate in the 13th annual Monte’s March in South Deerfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • The “Food Not Bombs” team participates in Monte’s March in South Deerfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Deerfield resident Robbie Friedman stretches outside Berkshire Brewing Co. in South Deerfield during the lunch stop of the second day of Monte’s March. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte leads the march in South Deerfield while pushing his classic shopping cart on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Kat Adler participates in Monte’s March in South Deerfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Bob McKelvey and Kristen Petricola came down from Keene, N.H. to take part in Monte’s March for the first time. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Brother Towbee Keyes from the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett participates in Monte’s March in South Deerfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/BELLA LEVAVI

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte interviews Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Executive Director Andrew Morehouse while on air outside Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/Mary Byrne

  • Performers with Double Edge Theatre in Ashfield help celebrate the conclusion of the 13th annual Monte’s March on Tuesday in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/Mary Byrne

Published: 11/22/2022 8:04:27 PM
Modified: 11/22/2022 8:04:16 PM

Dozens of people gathered at Court Square in Greenfield on Tuesday night, celebrating the end of a long walk from Springfield and fundraising efforts totaling nearly $500,000 to combat food insecurity.

As of 6 p.m., $482,090 had been raised through the annual Monte’s March to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts — a number organizers anticipate will surpass $500,000 as donations continue to roll in.

“This is a tremendous support,” said Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, standing outside Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield. “We count on this every year. It’s baked into our budget. This will ensure we will be able to get healthy food to people where they need it.”

The two-day march culminated with singing and dancing on Court Square led by performers from Double Edge Theatre, and a “finish line feast” at Cocina Lupita, inside Hawks & Reed.

“It’s more than a performance,” said Double Edge Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director Carlos Uriona. “It’s a celebration.”

WRSI 93.9 The River radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, who started the event 13 years ago to raise money for the food bank and awareness about hunger, said he was relieved to have completed the 43-mile walk, calling it an experience that “livened spirits.”

“The outpouring of generosity is really something special,” Belmonte said.

Stone Soup Cafe in Greenfield — along with 163 other food pantries and meal distribution sites, including about 20 in Franklin County — benefits from this fundraiser.

“This is a show of people walking the talk,” said Stone Soup Cafe’s board of directors President Whitney Robbins.

The march raises roughly $500,000 annually, equating to about 2 million meals for the community. Last year’s event raised $507,045.

Speaking earlier in the day at Berkshire Brewing Co. in South Deerfield, where marchers stopped for a lunch break at 1 p.m., Morehouse explained that before the pandemic, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts served about 82,000 meals monthly. At the height of the public health crisis, the number of meals rose to about 120,000. Today, the organization serves about 100,000 meals per month.

According to Belmonte, the child tax credit, enacted during the pandemic, cut child poverty in half. However, this credit has expired and the need for assistance has risen as a result.

“The need is above and beyond what it was,” Belmonte said, concurring with Morehouse.

In light of this increased need, organizers branded this year’s event as “Monte’s March 13: Making Moves.” Belmonte said there is a threefold explanation behind the name — one reason is that the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts is moving from Hatfield to Chicopee, another reason is the federal government is making moves to help end hunger, and the third is “we’re making moves literally, because we’re walking the 43 miles.”

In honor of making moves, Belmonte dressed as his favorite “move makers,” Elvis Presley and Bruce Lee, for this year’s march. He explained he made his costumes using items he purchased from Swanson’s Fabrics and Buckingham Rabbits Vintage in Turners Falls.

Marching with Belmonte was U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, who explained he has participated in Monte’s March for years and is inspired by everyone who came out looking to end hunger. He said co-chairing the House Hunger Caucus, and as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, he is able to make moves nationwide to end hunger.

Also at the march were members of U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s western and central Massachusetts staff, who noted Markey was able to secure a climate-related earmark for $3.5 million for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to move the distribution center to Chicopee.

Many participants approached this march as a political action. One team, whose members named themselves “Food Not Bombs,” used the march to publicize a message that money should be taken out of the military budget and used to fight world hunger.

“We need to feed people,” said group member Claudia Lefko, “not the Pentagon.”

Mohawk Trail Regional School students also came out to march. They explained this was their first action as an Equity Council, and they wanted to support fellow students who deal with food insecurity.

Belmonte said this year’s Monte’s March had far greater participation than in years past when it came to people marching the 43 miles, generating more excitement for the fundraiser.

“I hope the fundraiser goes beyond the alliteration of the name,” he said, explaining people use the march with his name as a format but have branched off to spearhead individual fundraisers for the food bank, too. “I hope people remember this fundraiser as doing weird things together with their neighbors in November to raise money for the food bank,” he said.

Bella Levavi can be reached at or 413-930-4579.


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