As if the economic disaster were not enough, the American Midwest was hit with unprecedented drought. Food supplies were diminished as formerly fertile fields became dust bowls. And in the south, once-productive cotton fields were transformed into eroded wastelands.
People in America were starving. Oral histories, recorded by the Library of Congress, relate tales of despondent people. Some picked dandelion greens (this is an audio link) to use as food. Others had to relocate, like 76-year-old Perry Rupert and Alvin Sharpe of North Carolina.
By 1936, tenant farmers and their families had become homeless wanderers. Farmers that had worked their own land were also forced to "evacuate." People moving west had little to go on but hope for a better future. John Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath had its roots in real-life America. Sometimes the struggle to retain one's dignity was almost more than a human being could manage.
Private parties offered cheap (or free) food. People stood in "bread lines" which stretched many blocks, only to be disappointed by the time it was "their turn." Food, in increasingly short supplies, was already gone. These were desperate times.
Before he became President, Herbert Hoover was the "United States Food Administrator." Although he tried to distribute food throughout the country, as he had provided wheat to America's allies during World War I, Hoover could not do his job the way he wanted to do it. There simply wasn't enough to go around.