Children in War - FOOD RATIONS

FOOD RATIONS (Illustration) American History Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Civil Rights Geography Government Social Studies World History World War I World War II Disasters

This image depicts a WWW-II-era ad issued during food-rationing days in America. From 1943, the “Fleischmann Yeast Bread Recipe,” promoted by a character known as “War Production Joe,” encourages people to eat bread. There was a time, during January of 1943, when the federal government (via the Food Administrator Claude R Wickard) issued a ban on sliced bread. It was soon abandoned, however, since monetary savings (from not slicing the bread) were negligible.


During both world wars, the United Kingdom depended on imports to feed its people. German ships did all they could to interfere with that process. Short (or non-existent) supplies of commodities, deemed essential in peacetime, mandated rationing.

Although the United States relied on voluntary rationing of food in World War I, the country had to take a different path in the Second World War. In the summer of 1941, even before America entered the war, the Office of Price Administration (OPA) was established to administer price controls. The process required a huge administrative effort.

Eight thousand rationing boards were created with 200,000 volunteers assisting 60,000 agency employees. Food rationing included restrictions on sugar and meat; clothing rationing (like that in the United Kingdom) restricted silk and nylon. Even on the radio, Americans were told that "waste delays victory."

WWII Ration Books were issued in many countries:

From standing in line at the War Ration Board in New Orleans to purchasing a limited number of eggs in England, families everywhere had to make do with less. Australian propaganda posters, urging people to conserve and follow rationing guidelines, were similar to those in America.

New Zealand's lack of gas and coal required mothers to prepare food in unusual ways. In Canada, individuals were limited to a half-pound of sugar per week.

Everyone in the family had a ration book which was used to benefit the whole family. Since points were tallied for every purchase of rationed food, when Mom went to the store the operative question was:

How many points will it take to buy this?

Sometimes folks did not adhere to the WWII motto:

I pay no more than ceiling prices...I pay my ration points in full.

Sometimes shoppers and merchants did what they could to avoid the stringent requirements.

During the war, Americans listened to their radios for news reports and entertainment. George Burns and Gracie Allen were one of America's favorite radio couples. Their Thanksgiving Day program, on November 25, 1943 encouraged listeners to share food as much as possible.

Not only did the government ration food—people were asked to recycle all kinds of used materials. Horsemeat was exempt. (Radio programs, like "The World Today" on 11 February 1943, aired recipes for it and noted horsemeat would likely be an American staple by war's end).  Spam, invented in 1937, was a morale booster.

Women even turned in an item of personal clothing: their nylons.  It took thirty-six pairs to make one parachute.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 01, 2003

Updated Last Revision: Jul 06, 2019

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"FOOD RATIONS" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 01, 2003. Feb 19, 2020.
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