At least 12.5% of Western Massachusetts residents are living below the poverty line, and that number is growing.
High winds and steady rain was not enough to slow down 93.9 The River’s radio host Monte Belmonte, as he walked 26 miles on Thursday, November 6, pushing a shopping cart, to raise awareness and funds for hunger in Western Massachusetts. Joined by Congressman Jim McGovern, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Executive Director Andrew Morehouse, Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan, and a host of other community figures, he left from Northampton at 6:00 a.m. and arrived in Greenfield at 6:00 p.m. By the day’s end, the event raised just over $66,000 for The Food Bank, exceeding Monte’s goal of $56,000.
“It was so inspiring to witness our community rally behind this event to exceed our fundraising goal,” explains Morehouse. “The march not only gave us more resources to distribute more food to more people, but it also enabled us to educate more people about the challenges we face moving forward.”
The rain held off for most of the morning, as they walked from Northampton to Hadley, along Route 9. By 10:30 a.m., the group reached the Amherst Survival Center, where they were greeted with refreshments and snacks by the center’s director Mindy Comb. From there, they headed north along Route 116, into South Deerfield. After taking a short break and having lunch at Chandler’s restaurant, they continued in the heavier rain along Route 5 & 10, where they eventually made their way up Bank Row into Greenfield.
Walking in the march for the second straight year, Congressman McGovern has not only been a long-time supporter of The Food Bank, but is also one of the country’s strongest hunger advocates in Washington. Since 2013, his anti-hunger campaign, #EndHungerNow, has led the way in our nation’s struggle to eliminate food insecurity. His series of speeches given to Congress in Washington have demonstrated why hunger in this country must end. McGovern has also appeared in the 2012 documentary “A Place at the Table,” which helped shed light on the serious economic, social and cultural implications that hunger poses for our nation.
Now in its fifth year, Monte’s March has raised a total of $243,000 for The Food Bank, providing approximately 729,000 meals to the 200,000 individuals in Western Massachusetts facing food insecurity.