What Ever Happened to Government Cheese?

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government cheese

Government Cheese

Every once in a while, you may run into someone who grew up on food stamps and hear them ranting about how they were forced to eat something called Government Cheese. Any cheese with the word government in it can’t be good! Throughout the 1960s-1990s, instead of giving out socialized medicine or socialized retirement funds, the government would give out socialized dairy products to welfare and food stamp recipients.

Government Cheese was first given out as military rations to troops during WWII. Following the war, the cheese was introduced into the public school system as part of the student lunch programs. Throughout the south and west sides of Chicago’s, impoverished families flocked to corner grocery stores to get their socialized cheese blocks.

When cutting into a block of government cheese, you never really knew what type of cheese you were eating. It was processed using leftover bits of Colby, cheddar, cheese curd, or granular cheese mixed with emulsifiers to give it a blocky shape. The taste and smell can only be described as a cross between very low-grade American cheese, a generic Velveeta knockoff, and a somewhat rancid cheddar. It was like biting into a cheese made from rotten socks. Once the dairy program was pulled and the food stamp program switched over to Link cards, Government Cheese was taken off the market.

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90 thoughts on “What Ever Happened to Government Cheese?

  1. sir i get food stamps. but you whont be live . that. they only gave me $28.00 a mouth. & iam 71 year.s old.. yes my son pay my rent.. & i live off my s.s. & that is 792.00 that i have to pay my car .is 399.89 then i get my med.s a othe 187.00 .. go to dr. . now that kind sir sure dont leve me much.. the gov. keep. puten in yther posket & they just wate for use to die off.. i know . you say . well hear is a other old man. . but . i think you sir. . have a good day….

    • You live off welfare and S.S. and Your car payment is 400 ? And your son pays your rent? You don’t see anything wrong with this ? What are you driving a Mercedes? Wake up old man, you can’t afford that shit. God bless your son, he’s a good kid to take take of such a foolish old man.

      • james
        I know exactly how you feel. I am a widow and my car payment is 475.00 a month. We bought this car when my husband was alive and he died suddenly. at 75. Not only did I lose him but over half my mo income. I have 13 mo left to pay so it would be stupid to let it go and buy a “junker”.
        How can people be so judgemental w/out knowing your circumstances.

      • my car payment is 400 and i have an 07 impala its not just the car its the location you, live the location of the dealership, your credit, ect….. so know you facts! also if its a fake post or not RESPECT YOUR ELDERS DIDNT YOU PARENTS TEACH YOU MANNERS YOU F@CKING KNUCKLEHEAD.

    • You should’nt have a car that costs so much!!
      Get rid of it and buy a use toyota…
      I would only cost you 150-200 a month!!!

  2. My Memories of the government cheese program was that the cheese was more then good, and helped my parents feed 8 children while my Dad worked for the NYC transit in the 1960′s and 1970s. In the early 80′s it helped feed my young family quite a few times. It is one of the better programs the government had. Rather then let the product rot in a storage silo, it helped economically boderline families survive, and the dairy farms survive as well.

    • I grew up on Government Cheese and I love it.I do admit, even as a grown woman with a career and family of my own, those were some of the best times of my life.

    • Hers an novel idea. Let the market set the price and end all corporate welfare, as in crop subsidies. That’s how the government got the cheese.

      • My family ate government cheese when I was growing up. It was better than dirty socks. To a hungry kid who never had fine cheese it was more than adequate.

      • No Need For Gov. Cheese Anymore Welfare Recipients Can Buy Whatever Food Item They Want From Lobster And Caviar To Oatmeal With There EBT Cards AnD Pull Cash Out For Whatever They Want Why Not The Makers ARe Paying The Bills. I Agree $400 A Month Car Payment That’s Just Dumb.

  3. If the cheese tastes like rotten socks, how bad do you think socialized medicine will be? You said it yourself, it can’t be good!

  4. This article is very misleading. Government cheese doesn’t taste just like any processed cheese.When did you eat rotten socks to be able to compare the flavors?

    “Like traditional processed American cheese, it consists of a variety of cheese types and other ingredients such as emulsifiers blended together, and may be made of any of Cheddar cheese, Colby cheese, cheese curd, or granular cheese. The cheese was often from food surpluses stockpiled by the government as part of milk price supports. Butter was also stockpiled and then provided under the same program. Some government cheese was made of kosher products. This cheese product is also distributed to victims of a natural disaster following a State of Emergency declaration.”

    So, it isn’t just used for welfare and food stamps recipients. I am not going to get into how misinformed most Americans are about socialized healthcare.

  5. Government cheese was delicious. My parent’s still have an old cheese slicer from the days of the government cheese block. It was awesome to melt and something in it was just addictive, kind of like MSG probably. But I don’t know if the author actually ever ate government cheese or maybe they did once and got a bad batch but I miss that cheese. Its a great running joke amongst all my friends who also grew up with government cheese.

    • I agree it was great cheese. That’s why I found this post, I was searching for it. The best toasted cheese sandwiches and Mac n cheese that puts Kraft to shame!

      • I agree that the cheese was GOOD that we received in elementary school after WWII – and, coincidentally, was searching the interwebs for sources where I could buy it!

        • Oh the saddness my heart feels that there is no more! Grilled Gov’ment cheese! Mac n gov’ment cheese! I’m gonna cry! Not only the cheese but the peanut butter!!!

      • I agree with you that it was addictive, just like all government welfare programs. People get addicted to them and don’t want to get off…..they just want more and more free stuff from the government. The government is more than happy to give them more, all they ask in return is their vote.

        Pretty slick system they have set up, isn’t it?

        • as a human being you just suck.You see nothing wrong with giving farmers money ,to let their land sit idle you see nothing wrong with farm subsidies ,but when the government buys this surplus and gives it to the poor its a crime.B etter to just give wealthy farmers the money.This is what is wrong with the right they have no empathy for anyone except those that already have to much freeking money already,don’t take advantage of the excess and feed a hungry child though .

        • It’s just like a greedy conservative to assume that everyone wants free stuff. I was hoping to find out where to BUY government cheese because I loved it so much growing up…

      • I agree that there is nothing like government cheese! My husband and I were just talking about it the other day. It was better than any cheese I found today. Mac & Cheese made with this stuff was incredible. The person writing this article apparently is giving an opinion about something he knows nothing about. Seems to be the American way anymore :-(

    • I have to say I miss the government cheese too. It was a cross between the old salty Velveeta, American Cheese, and a mild Cheddar. Granted this may have been dependent on the silo that it came from or something like that but it really was good. I so miss the stuff as one of the good food memories of hanging out at my Mom’s on the weekends

  6. I grew up on Government Cheese, and just recently found one of the old empty boxes in the basement. It was not in a wrapper like this photo – it came in a grocery bag colored long box the size of a Velveta block, and I have no memories of it ever tasting like socks. It was a great help to a lot of poor people, and, believe it or not, created a good memory – one that has shaped me to be very appreciative of everything I have, and deeply compassionate for those who have not.

  7. My grandmother would get gov’t cheese every now and then. It made the absolute BEST quesadillas! it melted evenly and tasted yummy. when it was cold it was a bit sharp tasting, but melted it was delicious!

    • How can anyone say they need free food of any kind if they can afford computers and internet connection to be here, and or a $400 car payment? We didn’t buy a new car from 1995 until Sept 2012 because we couldn’t afford it. If I were broke and hungry the first things I would get rid of would be the car, the internet, my computer, my cell phone….

      • Why can’t lower income people own computers? Who’s to say they are not using free wifi, or are not using a library or school computer? Getting a used laptop is pretty easy and cheap, and most cities nowadays, have free wifi pretty much everywhere. You can sit in a car in a Tim Horton’s or McDonald’s and get wifi, or live a block from a Mr Submarine or Subway Sandwich shop and get wifi free. I myself buy a new computer and laptop every 4 years or so, and donate the old ones to “kids without computers” programs.

      • you need the junky old computer and low grade internet to find where you can find a food basket. And as government ordered food banks, only give, 1 lbs of dry pinto bean, 1 lbs of brown rice, 1 can of cranberry jelly sauce[instead of applesauce, a useable product ], one small “e coli bacteria tained” jar of peanut butter, no salt canned green beans, 1 can of chipotle white corn, 1 can of either black beans or kidney beans, 1 lbs of wheat spaghetti, 1 15 oz can of spaghetti sauce, 1 can of spinach, 1 can peaches, 1 11 oz can of chipotle white corn, a bag, of bagged,1 lbs colored pasta that is fake, and has 41 carb, 2 fiber, 2 sugars, 7 protein, 1 fat, and 105 potassium. FOR A MONTH OF MEALS. No meat, no cheese, nothing put on the rice, or with the many types of bean, no bread or jelly, if you could eat the peanut butter, nothing to do with the cranberry sauce,it’s too tart to eat on it’s own, I won’t eat, spinach, peaches, black beans or kidney beans,I won’t eat chipotle anything, spaghetti gives me such bad heartburn[they don't give you Tums] I just won’t eat it. Now that you know what get to eat ALL month for a month, you try it, only this stuff you can’t add anything to it. That is cheating!! Good Luck AND STOP YOUR COMPLAINING!! Thank your lucky stars you don’t have eat like EVERY Month!!

        • The person picking on the poor is probably poor themselves and just showing the rest of how heartless and non compassionate it is to ridicule the poor ( as Jesus said you saw me hungry and fed me? ) Anyway it is true many tax payer dollars go to farmers and if they do not have much of crop they still get thousands of dollars that is a crime) many churches that are suppose to give government cheese, pork, chicken, beans, beef, etc KEEP IT FOR THEMSELVES!!! Also if it was not for people on welfare the many folks that run the office would be out of a job. Most people these days pay 2 thousand in taxes but get 8 thousand back so who is really ripping off the system? Also all a so called “tax payer” has to do is work for at least 2 or 3 months and then they leech off the system by getting unemployment checks for up to 2 years or more. Also when food stamps go up the stores just charge more. If you are married your “ssi” check gets cut in HALF!!! They punish you for being honest and for not living in sin. We send out billions of dollars to countries that hate us and then complain about the poor programs ( all of them) when in reality ALL of the programs to help the poor combined only make up about 10% of the US budget!! We pay politicians major salaries some for the rest of their lives even and then we can’t even raise the minimum wage to reflect the price and cost of living. We have fire ambulance police and many other tax payer benefits in the USA but do you think they would make going to the doctor and affordable meds a thing tax payers at least could be entitled to? HELL no not in the USA. One really funny thing is they talk about the deficit and economy but they are brainwashed . Even if you took away ALL the programs that help the poor , the greedy would spend it somewhere else and blame someone else as they always do. They that are evil would have you blame it on the poor when the real blame is on not the rich but the “greedy rich” ( two different breeds) When for a profit they steal the countries natural resources as if they do not belong to all of us. America is for the people and by the people ( or it is “supposed” to be) so that means if the government makes money of any natural resource “we the people” are suppose to benefit. America is not run like a family like France is and like Canada is and even Cuba makes sure it’s citizens are as healthy as can be and doctors are punished if they do not treat everyone as best they can to get them cured and healthy. Canada has only around 30 million people living there. America has around 300 million . Canada is doing better than the USA financially and they give free healthcare to everyone. Also Canada has one price for meds . If your script says you need 60 pills you pay around $7.77. Even if your script for meds says 800 pills you still only pay around $7.77!!! Some governments really care about it’s citizens

      • perhaps he is using the computer at the library ? It amazes me at the ability that some of you have for imaginining the wealth of a person by internet access ,or a car payment.You seem to know that they have spent to much for a car ,and internet .You know nothing of their circumstances .Nor is it your business ,I note that none of you tea baggers question the wisdom of the part of this program that pays subsidies to farmers ,not a one of you complained about your tax dollars going to the in some cases already rich farmers.Just more proof its not the tax dollars you spend that you object to its the the poor people you hate .

      • You make a lot of assumptions based on one person’s comment. For years I accessed the internet through the computer labs at school. Cell phones come with the service connection these days which can be paid for through “lifeline” services to ensure that everyone has access to 911 (since payphones are so scarce). As far as someone paying for a vehicle, you have no idea where that person lives. Without access to public transportation, buying a car may be their only option…and $400 may have been the cheapest thing they could find. YOUR judgments are meaningless, so keep them to yourself.

  8. dont remember dirty socks but I do remember it would make the best grilled cheese mac & cheese and was awsome on burgers. I would love to be able to get “the cheese”

    • yes RICK you are sooo right, I grew up in DETROIT and yes I made some good @ss grilled cheese, slice that cheese just right (yes yes yes) and my mom made the BEST HOMEMADE MACARONI AND CHEESE (hmmmm mmmm good), and she would kick me out the kitchen because as fast as she was cutting up the cheese i would be grabbing it and eating it (lol), great memories under rough times!!!!

  9. What Ronnie said… The cheese was delicious, melted to perfection on a grilled cheese sandwich. I’m not sure how my mom ever got her hands on it, but we loved to eat it. Specifically the one in the cardboard box, not like in the photo above…

  10. Contrary to what this article says, I believe that government cheese can still be found. I live in southeast Michigan. My fiance’s mother occasionally gets foodstuffs from food banks and food pantries. One day she told my fiance to take a big block of cheese home because she didn’t like the taste. It comes in a long box, similar to have Velveeta is packaged. I can’t stand the stuff. Bland, not much taste. My fiance loves it though. He says it makes the best grilled cheese ever. I also did some reading online, and a person had mentioned that government cheese had been given to them after Hurricane Frederick. Good luck to anyone looking for it. I’d send you some if I could – my fiance is now addicted!

  11. As I recall, the cheese was great. Melted to perfection for that cheese sandwich. My family was not on welfare but still managed to get it. Others said they also received it but were not on assistance. What gives?

    • The government gave large blocks of it out from what I hear. So much that the people passed it to others. I tasted some that my sister’s neighbor gave her…and you won’t taste a grilled cheese like it! Delicious it was!

  12. It didn’t taste bad for possessed cheese and I used to make cheese for a living. Believe me, nothing tastes better than cheese purchased from a small dairy in Wisconsin, but Government cheese is award winning compared to “Sandwich Mate” slices.

  13. No no ya bastids, Gov’t cheese would lock you up! If you actually ate that crap you know what I mean.

    It did melt well and was not that bad but the stuff could counteract the effects of any lactose intolerance or bran muffin intake.

  14. You know i needed help one time and was NOT proud of it. The one and only thing that I miss from the free help is not the checks, not the food stamps, or the free medical (well that was nice), but the free cheese. I don’t know where you got that pic from but that is NOT government cheese. It was a block like velvetta and had no writing on it.

  15. My mother was a single parent in Ca. and we got a couple blocks of that cheese every month all through my teenage years. It did not taste like old socks and made the best quesadillas with a touch of tobasco on it, yum yum yum. Grilled cheese and mac and cheese have never tasted the same since. I would gladly buy this cheese if someone would sell it to the general public! Its the only thing I miss from the government programs of my childhood and being poor. We may have been poor but tortilla shells are cheap and the cheese was plentiful, I totally enjoyed it!

    • I grew up VERY POOR in Oklahoma and we NEVER took a handout from the government or from anyone else. We didn’t apply for free food, food stamps, welfare, or anything else “FREE” and nothing is free, someone had to work to make the product available, it isn’t magic pixie dust. And I never saw a homeless person in Oklahoma in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. Never saw a homeless person until we went to San Francisco in 1989. Now they are everywhere, at the same time that one out of every seven Americans is on Food stamps. People are getting free houses in Houston now, brand new two story, wood floors, stainless steel kitchens, etc. None of this is really Free. People who work are PAYING for all of this, while getting the SHAFT.

      • Soooo, because YOU suffered everyone else has to? Are you insane? Obviously, your family had other resources available to keep you alive because you are able to be here complaining. Not everyone has this. The government cheese was not something created for the poor. The excess already existed. The govt simply decided to distribute the EXCESS to those in need and you have a problem with that? Of course you do, you’re the Okies who are dirt poor yet continue to vote for Republicans who have no problem seeing you starve.

  16. I remember the days of standing in line for cheese, honey, butter, peanut butter, corn meal and perhaps some other items. I loved that cheese! It was a box like Velveeta. I haven’t bought a box of cheese for a long time because it is so expensive.
    Back then, didn’t have to be on welfare or food stamps or prove your income. Just had to wait in line.
    Miss those memories of kids being excited with our food gifts for the month!

  17. Around 1983, I not only received the cheese, but was employed distributing it during the Reagan admin’s subsequent unemployment. Although it never looked at all like the pic or tasted any less than excellent, I was always amazed by how much of it there seemed to be. I once asked the truck driver where it came from. He said it came from huge USDA stockpiles deep within abandoned salt mines in the great lake region, where because of the packaging and constant cool dry environment, much of it was over 40 years old, creating its savory aged flavor.

  18. “Throughout the 1960s-1990s, instead of giving out socialized medicine or socialized retirement funds, the government would give out socialized dairy products to welfare and food stamp recipients.”

    I think you want to bone up on your history. We’ve had an awful lot of welfare since well before the 1960′s, and little to show for it, BTW.

    While there were a few celebrated TV moments of people waiting in line for government cheese, it was by no means some kind of dustbowl soup line.

    We had CARS back then too!

  19. To reiterate, the whole “underground stockpile” was in fact word of mouth, and to be considered as such. Nevertheless, I believed the guy as I talked with him. Seemed like a straight up guy. That aside, I couldn’t help but recall an episode of BBC’s James Burke – The Day The Universe Changed, where he attributed a large part of the Roman army’s success to the minimal supply lines required as a result of their cheese based sustenance.

  20. i also love the taste of government cheese ,we got blocks of yellow or white love it,,, ,,land-o-lakes make a 2# block of american process thats is firm and taste just like the yellow grovernment cheese give it a try you won’t be disappointed

  21. are government cheese came in 5# blocks we lived in Minnesota the guy who said that it taste bad most likely never tasted it.he just asumed it does because in his mind anything from the government can’t be good but it was very good cheese

  22. This cheese still exists. I know for a fact that many tribal food distribution programs still give out the familiar cheese blocks in the brown cardboard boxes. My brother got laid off and his family went on the program this year. It tastes the same – somewhere between American, colby, and salty velveeta cheese.

  23. When I was a kid in the early 60′s it was called the “commodities” program. They gave out cheese, peanut butter, butter, powdered milk, beans, some type of meat product packaged like spam only in a much larger can and probably more that I don’t remember. I also remember them just handing out cheese in the 80′s. You did not have to prove your income or receive food stamps or welfare, you just had to stand in line. And YES!!!!!! Greatest grill cheese sandwiches EVER!!

    • I remember the government cheese! It was some of the best tasting cheese I’ve ever eaten. I remember my mother having the peanut butter in the silver can, the pork meat was also in the can, the powdered milk, powered eggs were also a staple. I remember the cheese being in a paper-bagged colored box that would lasts for days there was so much of it. I remember the picture on the outside of the can for the peanut butter was in black. Wow…the memories back in the 1970′s sustained us.

      • Government cheese was *awesome*! It made the best grilled cheese sandwiches in existence! I’d buy it now if I could! :p

  24. The government was subsidizing the dairy industry to keep the industry alive. They started making the cheese to deal with the excess milk. then after awhile even giving the cheese away they started to make powdered milk for long term storage.

  25. You have all of these people on here bitching about the Old, Disabled and Retired people living on S/S or SSI, Social Security and SSI is totally different than welfare, So it does not matter what they buy or spend there checks on, As they are the ones that worked for years putting there hard earned money into there Social Security system, So people need to quit bitching and start helping out the elderly and disabled, As they are the ones that helped build this country…

    Now all of these foreigners that are allowed to enter our country illegally and get governmental assistance, Needs to be sent back to where they came from if they want to come to this country they need to apply for citizenship through the proper channels…

    Next all of the lazy people that are able to work and are purposely living on welfare to get free funds, Needs to be made to get out and find a job or work for there free funds at less than minimum wage, That way they will want to go out and find employment rather then having to work for there government at a sub standard wage…

    So leave the Elderly, Disabled, & Retired people alone, As they have already paid there dues, And actually deserve extra help from this country, If anyone is to blame for the financial problems of this country, It is all of the lazy young people living in government housing getting checks just to sit on there asses, As well as all of the people that are allowed to stay in this country that came into illegally, And now our government supports them…

    But because of all of the people abusing the public systems out there, The Government keeps taking more & more from the Social Security System, And causing more Americans to blame the Elderly, Disabled, & Retired, When they should be ashamed of themselves, And start blaming the Government for allowing healthy young Americans to abuse public programs along with letting illegals to remain in this country…

    • Amennnnnnnnnnnn Kenneth You put it best out of all the comments i ever read about ssi retirement and welfare. I agree 1000% with your comment. I been thinking and saying this for a long time!!!!

  26. I worked for Kraft Foods in the 80′s and loaded many Rail Cars with Govt Cheese. I also worked in the Grinding and Cooking Depts at Kraft. Govt Cheese was a higher quality and was inspected more often. It was of the highest quality and was never bad!

  27. I remember eating government cheese when I was a kid. I can remember it actually tasting very good. Me and my brother used to make grilled cheese sandwiches when we came home from school. I was wondering if there was a way to still get it. That’s how I found this.

    • To me, government cheese brings good memories. When we were first married and rolling-pennies-for-gas-money broke, my mother-in-law had a job as the county nurse and she got the extra government cheese the state couldn’t hand out and she shared it with us. It was great with bologna, it made good mac and cheese and it was great with saltines and olives. Yes, I know we weren’t “eating well” but we were well and we were eating while I finished school, my husband drove a truck and we had our future in front of us. We’re tax paying, professional, middle-class, middle-aged/seniors now (except for MIL, who died at 95) and we can tell brie from gouda – but I won’t run down a time when we were young, poor and living on government cheese. Those times were good as well.

  28. The person picking on the poor is probably poor themselves and just showing the rest of how heartless and non compassionate it is to ridicule the poor ( as Jesus said you saw me hungry and fed me? ) Anyway it is true many tax payer dollars go to farmers and if they do not have much of crop they still get thousands of dollars that is a crime) many churches that are suppose to give government cheese, pork, chicken, beans, beef, etc KEEP IT FOR THEMSELVES!!! Also if it was not for people on welfare the many folks that run the office would be out of a job. Most people these days pay 2 thousand in taxes but get 8 thousand back so who is really ripping off the system? Also all a so called “tax payer” has to do is work for at least 2 or 3 months and then they leech off the system by getting unemployment checks for up to 2 years or more. Also when food stamps go up the stores just charge more. If you are married your “ssi” check gets cut in HALF!!! They punish you for being honest and for not living in sin. We send out billions of dollars to countries that hate us and then complain about the poor programs ( all of them) when in reality ALL of the programs to help the poor combined only make up about 10% of the US budget!! We pay politicians major salaries some for the rest of their lives even and then we can’t even raise the minimum wage to reflect the price and cost of living

  29. Some of the best cheese there is smells like rotten socks, and Government cheese probably makes a pretty good grilled-cheese sandwich. And keep in mind that you can live in your car, but you can’t drive your house.

    You have a good day, Mr Croskey. Best wishes to you, sir. :)

  30. I was making quesadillas tonight and got to feeling nostalgic about government cheese. People look at me like I’m crazy (or just have no clue what I’m talking about) when I speak of it so fondly these days, but that stuff was A-MAY-ZING!

    Anyone remember government butter? They were big, solid one-pound blocks of what I thought was the some of the best tasting butter. It was a sad day when we made the switch to store butter…with those measly 1/4 lb. sticks. WTH.

    I would so pay for some gov’ment cheese and butter…

  31. People love to hate. I googled govt.cheese just because i loved it so much. No mom and dad were not on welfare but we obtained some somehow once and i wish i knew where to buy the same delicacy :)

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