Can you buy government cheese?

In the 1980’s the Reagan administration began distributing cheese through a federal food assistance program.  If you’ve tasted the unique cheese from the orangish yellow block you know why people Google the question so often, it’s fantastic! But how did America get started on the free cheese kick and is there anywhere you can purchase government cheese today?

The beginning

From 1977-1981 under President Jimmy Carter the U.S. government pumped over 2 billion dollars into the dairy industry. This caused once struggling dairy farmers to have a surplus of monumental proportions. In the end the government was the proud owner of over 500 million pounds of cheese and dry dairy products, which quickly began to mold.

“Probably the cheapest and most practical thing to do would be to dump it in the ocean,” a USDA official told the Washington Post in 1981

The solution

The Agriculture Secretary (with a fittingly ‘cheesy’ name) John Block would show up to a White House event with a 5 pound block of moldy cheese. Block’s sharp action was the event that brought the situation to the attention of the now bewildered American public.

After severe social backlash President Ronald Reagan created the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program. This program assisted mostly low-income and elderly people with cheese and other food items.

The program was effective in a couple of important ways. First, the extra food nourished American’s that had fallen on hard times during the recession in the 80’s. Secondly, the program allowed the government to unload it’s mountains of quickly deteriorating dairy products.

Mixed Reviews

There is a portion of the nation that have not had the oppoutinity to eat the rectangular block of goodness. Others find the ‘free cheese’ to be too salty. But the majority of people I encounter say that government cheese makes the best macaroni and cheese, cheese potatoes and gilled cheese sandwiches they have ever had.

Where can you buy government cheese?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a goverment cheese section at your local grocery store or any online grocer. The truth is unless you actually qualify for goverment assistance you can’t legally acquire goverment cheese. But the good news is that several dairy producers make a product that is as close as you can get to the real thing.

Land O’ Lakes sells the product that is extremely similar to government cheese. Just look for the ‘Extra Melt’ cheese in the brown and whtie box. You can also buy it in bulk online at retailers such as Amazon.

If your wanting a smaller amount or you just can’t wait another minute for some ‘government gold’, the Fields brand is a close second. The 2.5 pound blocks are available at IGA and other grocery stores throughout the nation.

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