My Grandmother was the Government Cheese Lady in my neighborhood.
According to the government, it “slices and melts well.”
When I was little we did not receive welfare. My mother worked a job where she made less than she would take in if she accepted welfare. She simply refused to accept welfare. She worked nonstop to bring money, food and cloths home for us. It was very important to her that my sister and I saw her working. She thought it would be an important lesson. She was also obsessed with us looking clean and kept. I remember always being told not to dirty myself because we had to ride the bus home after a day out and about. We did not have much, but that was no excuse for us looking unkempt.
My parents separated. We left the house my parents had worked to own. We went to live with Grandmother one Juanita Marcus. Grandma was just retiring from the factory when we moved in. However she was not going to sit at home. She volunteered in a few places that kept her busy. I am not sure where she got the idea to do that, but she did. One job she took on was giving out food to the needy. Her specialty was the Government Cheese. Government Cheese is processed cheese that was provided to welfare, food stamps recipients and the elderly receiving Social Security in the United States from the 1960s through to the early 1990s. Two to three times a week she went to The Center to hand out the Government Cheese. It would arrive in a truck and she and her fellow retirees would position themselves and give out the cheese. This was the eighties and that Government Cheese was hot. Everybody always had a block of it in the fridge. I remember being proud that my grandmother was one of the ladies in charge of giving it out. That ran a tight ship. Each person who lined up got one block each visit. They had folks trying to trick it up and get more than one block, but Juanita Marcus did not play. She had no problem saying no. She also made sure her “friends” got their block. My Grandmother was the Government Cheese lady in my neighborhood.
Government Cheese was very popular. It was the color of orange that could only be found in that box. The box itself was a slick and simple design. It was a staple in every home. The kids made fun of you for having it, but we all had it. It was the best cheese for macaroni and cheese. It was also great for a grilled cheese sandwich. Sometimes you could open the fridge and just slice off a chunk and be very happy.
So what is Government Cheese? And why Government Cheese
Government Cheese is something everyone wants. It is a part of American History that we can all claim. You must have a Government Cheese item. We all have it whether we admit it or not. It mixes well with everything you have. The fit is clean, neat and beautiful. When you wear it folks notice that you are well put together. When you walk in the room wearing Government Cheese everyone notices. It is not loud and splashy. It makes the statement that you have thought about how you present yourself. Government Cheese is an essential item/shirt/hoodie. The wearer understands looking good (‘Sharp’). The wearer is always on point and completely aware that all eyes are on him. The wearer can achieve this without drawing major attention towards him or her self.