Getting Food to the Needy

Cover from “Needy Family Cheese Distribution Information Packet/Government Donated Foods,” State of New York, ca. 1982
Courtesy of United Bronx Parents Collection, Archives of the Puerto Rican Diaspora, Centro de Estudios Puertorriquenos/Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Hunter College, CUNY

In 1982, President Ronald W. Reagan authorized the release of 30 million pounds of American processed cheese as part of the federal government’s nationwide effort to help needy families.  The government stored the cheese as a result of a farm law that assured dairy farmers a minimum price for their products.  Through the Milk Income Loss Contract program (MILC) farmers could get more money selling cheese to the government than on the open market.  MILC was later replaced by the Dairy Margin Protection Program.

In New York State, the Office of General Services used refrigerated warehouses at designated sites to store the cheese, which was then picked up by qualified distributors such as food banks, churches and voluntary organizations.