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At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture granted California a waiver to the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides boxes of food to low-income households, allowing the state to remove cheese from the boxes. Cheese is the only food in the box that needs to be refrigerated, and removing it allows the boxes to be delivered to seniors who have been advised to shelter in place rather than forcing them to come in to pick up the boxes. But that waiver has expired, and the USDA won’t renew it, saying cheese is a vital part of the boxes. It’s also a vital part of federal efforts to bolster the price of cheese by buying it from farmers and giving it away. The state reports that the number of seniors getting the boxes has dropped 30 percent since the waiver expired.