Dave Blakeman, right, loads bags full of fresh fruits and vegetables into his cart at a Producemobile distribution in Richton Park. (Photo By Charlie Westerman/Greater Chicago Food Depository)
With more than 860,000 people in Cook County struggling to find food, there are countless stories to tell. The Greater Chicago Food Depository is striving to tell 52 stories of the people we serve in 52 weeks.

Dave Blakeman, 53, always loved tinkering, inventing and fixing things. He was an engineer for 30 years, until he was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago.

“I never expected to go from having a full-time job to living day-to-day, wondering how I was going to feed my family,” he said.

Dave is currently undergoing treatment and can no longer work. He is quickly spending his savings paying medical bills and taking care of his family in Frankfort Square, a southern suburb. It’s a struggle for Dave to pay for food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables.

He gets apples, oranges, bananas, onions, and corn from the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Producemobile distribution in Richton Park.

“This definitely fills in the gaps,” Dave said. “I have a wife and two boys at home and with this food I know they’ll get the nutrition they need.”

As for Dave’s penchant for engineering? He hasn’t given it up despite being unable to work.

“I recently found some parts for a remote controlled plane, and fixed one up,” he said, smiling. “I fly it around the backyard. It keeps me occupied.”

The Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Producemobile delivers food to people in need all year long. In Fiscal Year 2012-13, one-third of the Food Depository’s distribution was fresh fruits and vegetables.
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