SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The annual March for the Food Bank kicked off Monday, Monte Belmonte leading a team of volunteers alongside local and state representatives for a 43-mile, two-day fundraising hike.

Each November, Monte Belmonte leads the March against hunger through the Pioneer Valley, pushing an empty shopping cart 43 miles from Springfield to Greenfield. The walk began at the Martin Luther King Junior Family Services Center, marching into downtown Springfield before turning north and toward Greenfield.

The two-day trek raises money for the Food Bank of western Massachusetts with a goal of $500,000 for the year, which the food bank says is enough for 1.5 million meals. Every dollar that is donated will provide three meals.

Representative Jim McGovern hasn’t missed a march in its 14 active years, “Hunger is a political condition. We have the means to end it, we don’t always have the political will. This is about creating the political will. This is about not just talking the talk but walking the walk.”

If you would like to make a donation, just call 1-888-323-HOPE on Tuesday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

“Since March, there has been an increase in the number of individuals seeking assistance from the Food Bank and the broader food assistance network across all four counties in Western Massachusetts. The expiration of pandemic relief benefits, such as the Child Tax Credit and SNAP benefits increases, adds to the challenges already imposed by inflation, such as higher food, housing, and childcare costs,” said Andrew Morehouse, Executive Director of the Food Bank.

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