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Government Cheese

Is there any way to buy this cheese?

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  1. Isn't that essentially Velveeta or any other pasteurized process cheese (aka
    American cheese)?

    1 Reply
    1. re: verily

      Not quite the same as velveeta which is a cheese product
      Government cheese is a step up into processed cheese and is also kosher:

    2. What's special about it? I'm just curious.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Rene

        Government cheese is the ONLY way to make El Paso's famous (best crap you'll ever eat drunk) CHICO'S TACOS!!!!

        1. re: amysuehere

          Oh man, that's one of the few things I miss from El Paso!

          1. re: katybz

            A friend put it best - it's the best cr-p you'll ever eat

        2. re: Rene

          It melts great, a lot of people like the taste (me for one), makes pretty good cheesey sauces for things like nachos and stove top mac & cheese, etc

          1. re: hannaone

            To me there is nothing special about it. When you have to stand in line for it just to feed your babies when their dad won't pay child support, you never want to look at it again.

            1. re: thecountryrose

              I remember the long lines waiting to pick up my families share from the food shelter. The powdered milk. block of no name butter, white boxes that simply said breakfast cereal or flour or sugar. Six years of lines.
              Still like that cheese block though.

        3. Government cheese (usually pronounced variably as "guv'mint... gub'mint... or "gummmit") is great stuff and very practical.

          We covered lots of details about it last year in this thread:


          1. I used to find it, along with Government peanut butter (like Jiff, but better) at my local Aldi.

            11 Replies
            1. re: FoodieKat

              Aldi is a commercial chain, right? How is it selling commodities made available to low-income people under government subsidy programs? I am presuming that those commodities are not to be sold, but used by the rightful recipients. Anyone have further information?

              I, as a taxpayer, would not be happy to know the program is being so blatantly abused. (I expect hidden abuse, such as individuals selling/trading their commodities. That's people, after all.)

              1. re: alkapal

                I haven't noticed Government cheese at my Aldi.

                1. re: alkapal

                  The subsidy works both ways, for dairy farmers and low-income end users. In some years there is a huge surplus and the cheese would otherwise be discarded. When you see it for sale commercially, it means the amount earmarked for the needy has been more than met and the Gov't is recouping its investment in the program rather than let it sit in a warehouse, taking a complete loss. I think that was instituted under Clinton, but it may have been Bush I.

                  It also has a much better texture than most commercial American cheese.

                  1. re: hill food

                    thanks, hill food. good to know. would you recommend a primer on how the dairy subsidy program works, end-to-end, so to speak?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      sorry, don't know the exact details, but the way I understand it is,

                      ag subsidies have been around for a while, originally to stabilize food prices (keep them up to a certain level) and (I believe) promote land-use conservation. understandably popular in some locales. the cheese program was intended as a way for the gov't to get something for the money. turned out to be so successful that by the mid-late 80's there were huge stockpiles of the stuff, more than could be used before it rotted. so IIRC in a cost-conscious effort the surplus was traded to the commercial market.

                      try searching the USDA website.

                      1. re: hill food

                        those dairy and other subsidies distort the market, but are so politically popular where the subsidies enhance income.

                        1. re: alkapal

                          I'm kind of torn, I appreciate a free market, but w/o them I think we'd have switched to an entirely Big Agribusiness system years ago.

                          and I might be wrong on some of those details, but pretty sure I'm on track with the general idea.

                          1. re: hill food

                            thanks hill food. like your posts.

                            1. re: hill food

                              don't bitch about nuthin'
                              except Big Sugar.

                    2. re: alkapal

                      Dunno, but I swear they did sell government cheese. It was labelled differently of course, as Aldi's 'generic' brand, but trust me. It was guvmint cheese. There is no mistaking it. Velveeta it ain't.

                      Hill food, last time I shopped at an Aldi store, running errands for Grandma, this would've been around the time of Bush I, up to the beginning of the Clinton era, so I think you might have something there in regards to when government subsidized foods started being sold in supermarkets (well, stores like Aldi at least). I recall a lot of the 'generic' dairy and cupboard items at Aldi had that very basic-looking white label, just like government products did back in the day. Do you know if those subsidies are still in play?

                  2. Gosh I remember hating that stuff as a kid, but I loved to play with the boxes it came in.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: adventuresinbaking

                      Ha, I didn't like eating it plain either, but it did make some darn nice grilled cheese sammiches. And that peanut butter too- man it made some good cookies!

                    2. I thought this was "Laughing Cow" cheese, all the way to the bank.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Veggo

                        You mean Laughing Cash Cow.....

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Nope, not in my experience. Nothing that 'posh'. Just good ol' guvmint cheese. Like a brick, texture reminiscent of malliable plastic, tastes indescribable (even Velveeta has a taste you can kind of describe). But just melted beautifully, and tasted great in grilled cheese sandwiches. It's been years since I've shopped at Aldi though, so maybe now they do sell slightly more upmarket stuff.

                        2. Perhaps if you knew a recipient of this cheese they might sell or give it too you. I am poor and have received it at food pantries. It always is a generic label but if you read carefully its made by Land 'O Lakes. I can post a pic if you like. I guess it would be illegal for them to sell it to you but they might trade for something else like a tasty steak or two.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: mellibean

                            Please post the pic of that generic label.

                            Is it a 5 pound loaf? Sliced, or unsliced?

                            1. re: FoodFuser

                              Five lb unsliced brick, as I remember, yes, produced by Land 'O Lakes but labeled generically, just basic American cheese. Haven't seen it in the NY area for many years; perhaps it's passed out to WIC participants, if even available.

                              Now I'm receiving goverment pork or roast beef, packed in the can with highly gelatinized stock, and not too shabby for hash.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                I have not seen the cheese at the food bank here in OR but I do have a couple of those cans of pork. I've been too afraid to open them, looks like its time to make some hash :-)

                                1. re: just_M

                                  I have a friend who loves that pork and swears by it for pulled-pork sandwiches, either in au jus or in barbeque sauce.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    just-M do not fear the pork; I did initially but went ahead, hunger dictating the move. It truly makes great hash, with onions and potato cubes, or pulled bbq pork . It's basically boneless canned pork loin, tender, and pretty low sodium to boot, nothing like a processed canned meat product at all. The roast beef is even better, but I don't get that as often.

                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                      pork loin wow! I'll have to give a look for the the roast beef. It seems that the food banks near me carry a lot of preprocessed foods like stew or biscuit mix instead of the (I think) cheaper staples so finding either canned pork is unusual. I wonder if volunteering could help bring back the cheese we all remember so fondly and other staples. I know many people have a challenge cooking but a can of pork is going to feed more people then that same size can of stew. And of course everybody loves cheese :-)

                                      1. re: just_M

                                        And it's a 28 oz can!

                                        We tend to get staples in NY, cans of tomatoes and other veggies, (I give the mixed veg to my cats) pasta, rice, beans, cereal, juice, peanut butter, tuna, sardines, shredded cheese, the occasional chicken or lb of ground beef, fresh carrots and potatoes, you get the point, stuff you can actually work with. Trader Joe's was donating sell by date expired snacks, pretzels, cheese puffs, organic white corn tortillas for awhile, fun.

                                        1. re: bushwickgirl

                                          bushwickgirl you are a lucky girl! The stew is only 24 oz :-( and my teen son can snarf that down in one sitting with a couple of slices of homemade bread! The pork could probably feed us all w/some sides.

                                          The town I use to live in was more like what you describe and the lovely ladies would take the client down the isles to pick things out (there were limits) and they would get some nice donations from the local Fred Meyer (Kroger). They also had a set of shelves where you could pick one thing (oddities that were donated). I will never forget the time there was a bottle of OO, I snatched it so quick, it was hilarious but I felt like it was Xmas for me!

                                          The food bank here hands you a preloaded box and it does not seem to get many donations from the local stores (except milk) but it does get local organic produce donated, so that is very nice. But again staples are a rarity. They did have a 10lb bag of flour last time that I am very excited to have :-) In any case I'm going to speak to the director on my next visit and ask about the cheese and other staples. Cheese is such a great convenience food.

                                          1. re: just_M

                                            Yeah... I once found a gallon can of artichoke hearts on the table out front. Grabbed that so fast i nearly was spinning

                          2. I laughed so hard when I saw this post.

                            My aunt made the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches, I asked her where the cheese came from (or what it was) and she insisted that the cheese was sold at Sam's Warehouse. I looked my entire life for that cheese, cut to 21 years LATER, was working retail and one of the other employees was talking about how she only missed one thing about Government cheese, the grilled cheese sandwiches.

                            BUSTED AUNT Patsy. So busted.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: thatswhatshemade

                              I had just the same experience at my elementary school, 20 years ago (it was a public school, so I'd assume it was government cheese). It melted perfectly, but it had some of that tart, sharp flavor you get from cheddar.

                              I find that most of the deli American cheeses, like Land O'Lakes, come kind of close to it--but the closest is probably Kraft Deli Deluxe Sharp Cheddar, which you can sometimes find in the cheese aisle. It has a pretty full, cheddary flavor and it actually has some real sharp cheddar mixed into it.

                              1. re: berroci

                                I miss the stuff, it really does make the best grilled cheese sandwiches.

                                When I was a kid, my dad knew an elderly man who received the cheese as part of his aid. It was too much for the man to eat, so occasionally he would give some of it to my dad, figuring a family with two young kids could use it up it.

                                1. re: berroci

                                  I also remember gov't cheese from school lunches. It made for great grilled cheese, but I also enjoyed it saltines on "manager's special" days in the cafeteria.