Monte Belmonte concludes 10th annual march for food bank

  • Sean Barry, Christopher “Monte” Belmonte and Phil Korman of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) lead the pack as Monte’s March continues up Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money and awareness for hunger in western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Congressman Jim McGovern arrives at Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield Tuesday afternoon while participating in Monte’s March to raise money and awareness for hunger in Western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Participants in Monte’​​​​​​​s March make their way to Greenfield on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, center with tie, pushes a shopping cart up Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money and awareness for hunger in Western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Monte’s March continues up Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money and awareness for hunger in Western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Christopher “Monte” Belmonte, Sean Barry and Phil Korman of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture) lead the pack as Monte’s March continues up Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money and awareness for hunger in Western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte accepts a donation from a young boy as he does a radio broadcast from the parking lot of Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • “Steve the Hippie,” left, and U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern walk up Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield Tuesday afternoon while participating in Monte’s March to raise money and awareness for hunger in Western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Radio personality Christopher “Monte” Belmonte accepts a donation from John Howland as he does a radio broadcast from the parking lot of Richardson’s Candy Kitchen in Deerfield Tuesday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • People participating in Monte’s March walk up Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield on Tuesday to raise money and awareness for hunger in Western Massachusetts. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/26/2019 10:51:35 PM

GREENFIELD — Dressed in a shiny gold suit, Christopher “Monte” Belmonte marched north along Routes 5 and 10 on Tuesday as he led the 10th annual Monte’s March, raising money to fight hunger in the region.

“It’s the march for a million meals, so I wanted to dress like a million bucks,” Belmonte said Tuesday.

This year saw warm, sunny weather for the WRSI The River radio personality as he pushed a specialized shopping cart, created by students of the Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. The two-day, 43-mile journey from Springfield to Greenfield began Monday and ended at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield Tuesday evening.

Belmonte was joined on this year’s walk by U.S. Rep Jim McGovern, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Andrew Morehouse and a dozen other participants. The money raised in the annual event supports the Food Bank and the people it feeds.

“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” Morehouse said. “Not only is it a fundraiser, it’s an awareness raiser. ... Everyone has a right to healthy food, regardless of their circumstances.”

As of 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Morehouse said they had raised $131,000 — enough for 393,000 meals. Belmonte said this year’s goal is to raise $333,333.33. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts can use each dollar to purchase three meals, turning the goal total into 1 million meals.

“That’s more meals than were distributed in all of Franklin County all of last year,” Belmonte said.

An official total for the annual fundraiser will be announced in the days following the march, Belmonte said. He and Morehouse explained that by donating to the Food Bank, the money is spread as far as possible. The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts uses its network of partnerships with the federal government, local farms, grocery stores and more to put together meals for those in need.

Last year, the march raised more than $294,720, which brought the total raised since 2010 to more than $1 million, and provided 884,160 meals for 2018 alone.

Throughout the march this year, Belmonte and his fellow marchers received donations as cars pulled into parking lots along their path to meet the group and give their donations in person. Others donated through phone calls to the WRSI radio station or used a text-to-give platform, donating to 413-287-8500.

“We’re all doing our best to get by and we’re all doing our best to help each other from what little — or what lot — we have,” Belmonte said, broadcasting to the radio from his custom cart. “Encouraging generosity and encouraging people to get involved, even in such a wacky idea as walking 43 miles, will hopefully change the hearts and minds of a few different people.”

To donate to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, call 888-323-HOPE (4673) or visit foodbankwma.org. To donate by mail, send a check to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 160, Hatfield, MA 01038.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.




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