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McGovern Applauds Success of Western MA Hunger Walk

8th Annual Monte’s March Raised over $236K to Fight Hunger

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Washington, November 30, 2017 | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02) delivered the following speech on the House floor on the 43-mile Western Massachusetts walk he completed the week of Thanksgiving to help increase awareness in the fight against hunger. Joining Congressman McGovern on the walk were Congressmen Joe Kennedy (MA-04) and Richard Neal (MA-01) as well as a wide range of state and local leaders. Click here to view video of speech.

“Last Monday and Tuesday I participated in the 8th annual Monte’s March – a 43 mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield, Massachusetts to raise awareness about hunger in our community and to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

“This year, the march raised over $236,000 – a record! – to help struggling families in Western Massachusetts. This translates into about 708,000 meals that will go directly to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity.

“As I am each year, I was deeply impressed by the stamina of all those who walked, and by the generosity of community members looking to help those in need.

“I was so proud to join so many of my constituents and neighbors in Western Massachusetts to bring attention to the issue of hunger and raise much-needed funding for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

“I’m so honored to be a part of this march each year, but need to remind my colleagues in this chamber that charities alone cannot end hunger. To do that will take further investments in our federally-funded programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and school meals.

“In the United States of America, the richest country in the history of the world, it is a disgrace that any child goes to bed hungry – that any senior has to choose between lifesaving medication and a decent meal – that any veteran who risked his or her life in defense of our nation doesn’t have enough to eat – that any individual suffers from hunger.

“But still, 42 million Americans remain food insecure. Food is a right, and it is up to this Congress to finally take a stand in supporting efforts to end hunger now.”

Click here to view video of speech.

Full Text of Congressman McGovern’s speech:

“Last Monday and Tuesday I participated in the 8th annual Monte’s March – a 43 mile walk from Springfield to Greenfield, Massachusetts to raise awareness about hunger in our community and to raise money for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

“Monte Belmonte, a well-known and beloved local radio personality with WRSI, the River, led dozens of committed activists and community leaders on this walk.

“This year, the march raised over $236,000 – a record! – to help struggling families in Western Massachusetts. This translates into about 708,000 meals that will go directly to individuals and families struggling with food insecurity.

“As I am each year, I was deeply impressed by the stamina of all those who walked, and by the generosity of community members looking to help those in need.

“I’d like to take a moment to thank those who joined us along the route for their dedication to the cause of ending hunger in this country once and for all.

“Specifically, I want to thank –

“Monte Belmonte and his entire crew from the River, including Mark Lattanzi, Dave Musante, and Rene Kane. They work incredibly hard each year to make this march a success, and it wouldn’t have been possible without their determination and the extra hours they put in leading up to this event.

“Sean Barry of Four Seasons Liquor in Hadley – Monte’s right hand man marched the entire two days.

“Andrew Moorehouse, Executive Director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, and everyone at the Food Bank. They do inspiring work. They deserve to be supported.

“All of the elected officials who joined us, including:
• my colleagues Reps. Joe Kennedy and Richard Neal
• State Senator Eric Lesser and State Rep. Aaron Vega
• Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz
• Greenfield Mayor William Martin; and
• Chicopee Mayor Richard Kos.

The representatives of several local colleges:
• Christina Royal, President of Holyoke Community College
• My dear friend Bob Pura, President of Greenfield Community College; and
• a special appearance by Sam the Minuteman, UMass’ beloved mascot.

Incredible advocates from the non-profit community including:
• Tim Garvin, Brian Whitney, and Kerry Conaghan of the United Way of Central Massachusetts.
• Ronn Johnson, CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services Inc. in Springfield
• Andrea Marion, Executive Director of Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen in Chicopee
• Shannon Rudder, Executive Director of Kate’s Kitchen in Holyoke
• Betty Medina Lichtenstein, Founder & Executive Director of Enlace de Familias in Holyoke
• Mindy Domb, Executive Director of the Amherst Survival Center; and
• Neftali Duran, chef and food activist at Nuestras Raices in Holyoke

The musicians who kept us entertained along the way:
• The Expandable Brass Band
• Double Edge Theatre; and
• Hopkins Academy Band

Western Massachusetts small businesses, including:
• Bridgeside Grille, Magpie Pizza, Ashfield Lake House, Union Station in Northampton, and
• Berkshire Brewing Company who kept us nourished along the way
• Ben Clarkdale of Clarkdale Fruit Farms; and
• The Tea Guys, for their wonderful tea in honor of the march, and for their continued generosity and friendship.

“The Sheriff’s Departments in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties, as well as the Deerfield Police, for helping to provide escorts for us during all 43 miles.

“Mr. Michael Brooks and the students at Smith Vocational School in Northampton for making the shopping carts we used during the march.

“And I’m grateful to the countless students – elementary, middle, and high school – who raised money and greeted us along the way.

“Members of the Tibetan community who greeted us, as well.

“And all of the other incredible individuals from our community who joined us on the march like my dear friend Chia Collins, Steve “the Hippie” Fendell, Georgiann and Rick Kristek, Kristen Elechko, Erin McKeown and Emily Lichter from Ashfield Lake House, and so many others, as well as industry partners who helped support this effort through their generosity.

“I’d also like to thank two of my wonderful district staffers – Keith Barnicle and Seth Nadeau – for their efforts in helping to organize the march and for assisting me every step of the way.

“Lastly, I’d like to thank my son Patrick who marched with me by my side during this entire time.

“I was so proud to join so many of my constituents and neighbors in Western Massachusetts to bring attention to the issue of hunger and raise much-needed funding for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts.

“I’m so honored to be a part of this march each year, but need to remind my colleagues in this chamber that charities alone cannot end hunger. To do that will take further investments in our federally-funded programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and school meals.

“As we look toward the next Farm Bill, the next budget, and the upcoming appropriations cycle, I plead with my colleagues to maintain – and increase – investments in programs to help those struggling with food insecurity. Please don’t do anything to make hunger in this country worse.

“In the United States of America, the richest country in the history of the world, it is a disgrace that any child goes to bed hungry – that any senior has to choose between lifesaving medication and a decent meal – that any veteran who risked his or her life in defense of our nation doesn’t have enough to eat – that any individual suffers from hunger.

“But still, 42 million Americans remain food insecure.

“Food is a right, and it is up to this Congress to finally take a stand in supporting efforts to end hunger now.”

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