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Government Cheese

coachphyllis Mar 26, 2008 08:13 AM

Is there any way to buy this cheese?

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  1. v
    verily RE: coachphyllis Mar 26, 2008 08:41 AM

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: verily
      hannaone RE: verily Mar 26, 2008 08:50 AM

      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. r
      Rene RE: coachphyllis Mar 26, 2008 12:30 PM

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

      6 Replies
      1. re: Rene
        amysuehere RE: Rene Mar 26, 2008 12:46 PM

        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
          katybz RE: amysuehere May 7, 2011 12:53 PM

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

          1. re: katybz
            amysuehere RE: katybz May 29, 2011 06:04 PM

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

        2. re: Rene
          hannaone RE: Rene Mar 26, 2008 02:39 PM

          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
            thecountryrose RE: hannaone Mar 26, 2008 07:43 PM

            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
              hannaone RE: thecountryrose Mar 26, 2008 08:12 PM

              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. FoodFuser RE: coachphyllis Mar 26, 2008 07:50 PM

          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. FoodieKat RE: coachphyllis Mar 27, 2008 12:21 PM

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

            11 Replies
            1. re: FoodieKat
              alkapal RE: FoodieKat Mar 28, 2008 01:16 PM

              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
                libgirl2 RE: alkapal Mar 28, 2008 01:21 PM

                I haven't noticed Government cheese at my Aldi.

                1. re: alkapal
                  hill food RE: alkapal Mar 28, 2008 01:34 PM

                  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
                    alkapal RE: hill food Mar 28, 2008 01:38 PM

                    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
                      hill food RE: alkapal Mar 28, 2008 01:51 PM

                      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
                        alkapal RE: hill food Mar 28, 2008 01:58 PM

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

                        1. re: alkapal
                          hill food RE: alkapal Mar 28, 2008 02:22 PM

                          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
                            alkapal RE: hill food Mar 28, 2008 02:25 PM

                            thanks hill food. like your posts.

                            1. re: alkapal
                              hill food RE: alkapal Mar 28, 2008 02:36 PM


                            2. re: hill food
                              Chowrin RE: hill food May 3, 2011 06:40 PM

                              don't bitch about nuthin'
                              except Big Sugar.

                    2. re: alkapal
                      FoodieKat RE: alkapal Mar 28, 2008 01:36 PM

                      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. a
                    adventuresinbaking RE: coachphyllis Mar 28, 2008 01:38 PM

                    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
                      FoodieKat RE: adventuresinbaking Mar 28, 2008 01:41 PM

                      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. Veggo RE: coachphyllis Mar 28, 2008 02:31 PM

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

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Veggo
                        Gio RE: Veggo Mar 28, 2008 02:37 PM

                        You mean Laughing Cash Cow.....

                        1. re: Gio
                          FoodieKat RE: Gio Mar 28, 2008 02:50 PM

                          Boom boom-swish! :)

                        2. re: Veggo
                          FoodieKat RE: Veggo Mar 28, 2008 02:50 PM

                          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.

                        3. m
                          mellibean RE: coachphyllis Aug 28, 2009 01:46 PM

                          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
                            FoodFuser RE: mellibean Aug 28, 2009 02:44 PM

                            Please post the pic of that generic label.

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

                            1. re: FoodFuser
                              bushwickgirl RE: FoodFuser Oct 24, 2010 04:35 PM

                              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
                                just_M RE: bushwickgirl Oct 24, 2010 04:46 PM

                                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
                                  mamachef RE: just_M Oct 24, 2010 05:39 PM

                                  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
                                    bushwickgirl RE: mamachef Oct 24, 2010 06:03 PM

                                    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
                                      just_M RE: bushwickgirl Oct 24, 2010 08:37 PM

                                      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
                                        bushwickgirl RE: just_M Oct 24, 2010 11:26 PM

                                        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
                                          just_M RE: bushwickgirl Oct 25, 2010 04:19 PM

                                          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
                                            rozz01 RE: just_M May 3, 2011 08:13 PM

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

                          2. t
                            thatswhatshemade RE: coachphyllis Oct 24, 2010 06:13 PM

                            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
                              berroci RE: thatswhatshemade May 3, 2011 06:26 PM

                              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
                                manraysky RE: berroci May 3, 2011 08:31 PM

                                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
                                  mpjmph RE: berroci May 30, 2011 06:30 AM

                                  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.

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