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The answer to Trumps shutdown: Government cheese!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Government cheese is processed cheese provided to welfare beneficiaries, Food Stamp recipients and the elderly receiving Social Security in the United States, and is still provided to food charities. The processed cheese was used in military kitchens since World War II and in schools since as early as the 1950s.

Government cheese is a commodity cheese that was controlled by the U.S. federal government from the time World War II ended and into the early 1980s. Government cheese was created to maintain the price of dairy when dairy industry subsidies artificially increased the supply of milk and created a surplus of milk that was then converted into cheese, butter, or powdered milk. The cheese, along with the butter and dehydrated powder, was stored in over 150 warehouses across 35 states.[1]

History and impact[edit]

The cheese was bought and stored by the government’s Commodity Credit Corporation. Direct distribution of dairy products began in 1982 under the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program of the Food and Nutrition Service. According to the government, it “slices and melts well.”[2] The cheese was provided monthly, in unsliced block form, with generic product labeling and packaging.

The cheese was often from food surpluses stockpiled by the government as part of milk price supportsButter was also stockpiled and then provided under the same program. Some government cheese was made of kosher products.[3] This cheese product is also distributed to victims of a natural disaster following a state of emergency declaration.

This cheese became an important topic for the press in the 1980s when the press learned about the milk products that were being stored across the nation while millions of Americans felt food insecurity. During the same time in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan’s administration cut the budget on the national food stamp program in the United States.[1]

On December 22, 1981 President Ronald Reagan signed and authorized into law that five hundred and sixty million pounds (250,000 metric tons) of cheese that the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) had been stockpiled should be released, saying that it …

“… will be distributed free to the needy by nonprofit organizations.” Ronald Reagan, in his official statement about the distribution of the Cheese Inventory of the Commodity Credit Corporation, said, “The 1981 farm bill I signed today will slow the rise in price support levels, but even under this bill, surpluses will continue to pile up. A total of more than 560 million pounds of cheese has already been consigned to warehouses, so more distributions may be necessary as we continue our drive to root out waste in government and make the best possible use of our nation’s resources.”[4]

As the bill stated, any state that would ask for the cheese would get 30 million pounds (14,000 metric tons) of it, in 5-pound (2.3 kg) blocks. The bill was approved in the House by a margin of two votes; in the Senate it had a much larger approval rate. The logic behind the distribution was to effectively remove waste and to use all possible resources available in the United States. One representative from the USDA remarked that, “Probably the cheapest and most practical thing would be to dump it in the ocean.”[5]

Distribution[edit]

The distribution of government cheese was claimed to not have an adverse effect on commercially available cheeses, as the government was required to purchase dairy products like cheese to keep the commercial companies afloat. The government could then sell or give the cheese away to foreign countries. At the time of Ronald Reagan’s signing of the 1981 farm bill, the cheese stockpile equaled to more than 2 pounds (1 kg) of cheese for each person living in the United States.[6] Government cheese was frequently moldy.[1] Those who received the cheese did not lose any food stamps and were not required to trade their food stamps in for the cheese. California was the first state to take the cheese; the first delivery that they received was for three million pounds (1,400 t) of cheese.[1] Government cheese was provided to welfare, food stamp, and Social Security recipients at no cost to them. Government cheese was colored orange. It was distributed to low-income families through the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program. Government cheese was nominally removed in the 1990s when the dairy market stabilized.[7]

Ingredients[edit]

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 cheeseColby cheesecheese curd, or granular cheese.[3]

Nutritional value[edit]

Government cheese has become a symbol for American innovation and industrialization, although the nutritional value of the cheese has been in question.[7]It has been argued that people in poverty, such as those entitled to government cheese, are more likely to become obese. Between 1988-1994, those individuals below the poverty line had an obesity rate of 29.2 percent.[8] The Food Security Act of 1985 (the 1985 farm bill) attempted to reduce milk production, but has been labeled as a “hodgepodge of misdirected political compromise.”[9]

The nutrition facts on government cheese suggests a serving size of 1 ounce (28 g), or two slices, of cheese per serving. It also notes that the nutritional information represents the average nutritional value of “Processed American cheese” which was offered by the commodity food program. Per serving, the total fat content is 9 grams, of which 6 grams are saturated fat. Per serving, there are 30 mg of cholesterol and 380 mg of sodium.[2]

Government cheese in the 21st century[edit]

On August 23, 2016, the U.S Department of Agriculture released that they planned to purchase approximately eleven million pounds (5,000 t) of cheese,[10]worth $20 million,[11] to give aid to food banks and food pantries from across the United States,[10] to reduce a $1.2 billion[11] cheese surplus that has been at its highest level in thirty years, and to stabilize farm prices.[11] This purchase also added revenues for the dairy producers. Regarding the purchase, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “This commodity purchase is part of a robust, comprehensive safety net that will help reduce a cheese surplus that is at a 30-year high while, at the same time, moving a high-protein food to the tables of those most in need. USDA will continue to look for ways within its authorities to tackle food insecurity and provide for added stability in the marketplace.”[11]

Currently, as part of the USDA Food Nutrition Service Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), [12] eligible Seniors over age 60 are provided one 32-ounce block of processed cheese food each month, supplied by participating dairies.

See also[edit]

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Trump Iraq Visit Is Called a Political Rally

The political paraphernalia on display during President Trump’s visits to Germany, above, and Iraq has raised questions at the Defense Department about protocol violations.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

The political paraphernalia on display during President Trump’s visits to Germany, above, and Iraq has raised questions at the Defense Department about protocol violations.CreditCreditAl Drago for The New York Times

By Annie Karni- 

WASHINGTON — During his surprise visit to American troops in Iraq and Germany this week, President Trump singled out red “Make America Great Again” caps in a sea of military fatigues, signed a “Trump 2020” patch and accused Representative Nancy Pelosi and other leading Democrats of being weak on border security.

Now the president is facing accusations that he was playing politics with the military.

“When that starts happening, it’s like the politicalization of the judicial branch,” said Mark Hertling, a retired three-star Army lieutenant general.

Visiting troops abroad is a presidential tradition in which the commander in chief puts aside politics to thank a military that represents a broad spectrum of the country. But Mr. Trump’s political comments and his encouragement of supporters in the crowd veered from those norms.

“He has to understand that there exist some audiences that should not be addressed as part of his base, because they are not,” Mr. Hertling said. “It’s a violation of protocol by the president.”

Then there was the president’s boast, which was incorrect, that the troops would be getting their first raise in more than a decade thanks to his leadership.

“You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years,” he told about 100 uniformed troops at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. “And we got you a big one. I got you a big one.” In fact, the military has received steady pay increases for decades.

Trump in Iraq: First Visit to U.S. Troops in Combat
President Trump made a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq on Wednesday, days after he said, despite advisers’ objections, that he would pull out all American soldiers in Syria and half of those in Afghanistan.Published OnCreditCreditAl Drago for The New York Times

Mr. Trump also turned a customary Christmas greeting into a broadside against Democrats, who are refusing to fund a wall along the southern border. The stalemate over the wall, Mr. Trump’s signature campaign promise, has resulted in a partial government shutdown.

“I don’t know if you folks are aware of what’s happening,” Mr. Trump said. “We want to have strong borders in the United States. The Democrats don’t want to let us have strong borders.”

“You know why?” he added. “Because I want it.”

Mr. Trump joked that his solution to obtaining funding for a wall was to claim that he did not want one anymore. “Tell Nancy Pelosi I don’t want the wall,” he said, adding: “And then we get the wall. That’s another way of doing it.”

“You’re fighting for borders in other countries, and they don’t want to fight, the Democrats, for the border of our country,” he added. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Mr. Trump at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Wednesday. “If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign,” the president said.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times
Mr. Trump at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq on Wednesday. “If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign,” the president said.CreditAl Drago for The New York Times

Ms. Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, accused Mr. Trump of turning uniformed troops into scenery for a campaign speech. “He offered our brave men and women in uniform the bitter insult of using them as political pawns to push his radical right-wing, anti-immigrant agenda,” Mr. Hammill said. “The president turned his first visit to our troops into another cringe-worthy Donald Trump reality-show special.”

Some commentators on Fox News also criticized the president for injecting politics into the event.

“He talked about the border wall as well, which didn’t have a place there,” Julie Banderas, a Fox News contributor, said on the show “Outnumbered.” Another Fox News contributor on the show, Jessica Tarlov, criticized the president for using the visit “as a campaign rally.”

The political paraphernalia on display, which Mr. Trump appeared to encourage during his speech by referencing the caps he had signed, has raised questions at the Defense Department about violations of military protocol by the troops who greeted him. One woman in uniform at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, for instance, welcomed Mr. Trump with a “Make America Great Again” flag, according to a photograph posted on Twitter by a Bloomberg News reporter who accompanied Mr. Trump on the trip.

A directive from the department prohibits active-duty personnel from engaging in “partisan political activities” and advises that “all military personnel should avoid the inference that their political activities imply or appear to imply DoD sponsorship, approval or endorsement of a political candidate, campaign or cause.” Defense Department and Army regulations also prohibit military personnel from showing any political leanings while in uniform, Mr. Hertling said.

An official said the department was aware of the situation and “trying to figure it out” by tracking down photographs of troops holding red caps and campaign flags, and piecing together where the campaign paraphernalia came from.

Mr. Trump said on Thursday that he could not turn down any requests from the soldiers. “If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign,” he tweeted. “Can you imagine my saying NO? We brought or gave NO hats as the Fake News first reported!”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

CNN & others within the Fake News Universe were going wild about my signing MAGA hats for our military in Iraq and Germany. If these brave young people ask me to sign their hat, I will sign. Can you imagine my saying NO? We brought or gave NO hats as the Fake News first reported!

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said administration officials did not distribute any campaign gear to the troops, and noted that “these were their personal belongings.”

On her Twitter feed, Ms. Sanders addressed a CNN.com report that raised questions about whether the red caps displayed for Mr. Trump to sign may have violated a military rule.

“CNN will attack anyone who supports President Trump, including the brave men and women of our military who fight everyday to protect our freedom,” Ms. Sanders wrote. She declined to comment further on the president’s speech.

In his remarks, Mr. Trump also boasted that he had secured “billions and billions of dollars of new equipment” for the military.

“You’re getting such new equipment, your eyes are popping, right?” he asked the troops.

 

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