You are here

Food Rationing, "Meat Increase at Time Needed" and "Sugar Tested Moral Fiber" Articles, World War I, c. 1917

"Spend Food Carefully!"
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3167-78A_B7_WW1_Material_10
Document Description
Two World War I food rationing newspaper articles: "Meat Increase at Time Needed" and "Sugar Tested Moral Fiber," c. 1917.
Why was it important to ration food?
What were the main items that were rationed?
What other things did civilians do to help with rationing?
How were people informed about this program?
Historical Challenges
Create a visual to accompany each newspaper article. Include details from the article on your visual. Your visual can be a political cartoon, propaganda poster, or pamphlet.
Interdisciplinary Connections
English Language Arts: Write an editorial about the benefits of rationing to help with the war.
Clark, John Maurice. The Cost of the World War to the American People. New Haven: Yale University Press for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1931.
Gilbert, Martin. The First World War: A Complete History. New York: Henry Holt, 1994.

Historical Context
President Woodrow Wilson set up the Food Administration to help with the production and conservation of food.

Beyond the production of food, the mission of the Food Administration was to assure a fair distribution of food among American civilians, the armed forces, and the Allies, and at a fair price.   The Food Administration was under the direction of Herbert Hoover.

The Food Administration did not attempt to set maximum prices at retail or (with the exception of sugar) to ration food. The Food Administration attempted to control prices and quantities at retail through calls for voluntary cooperation.

Hoover urged Americans to curtail their consumption of the most valuable foodstuffs: there were, for example, Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays.  Hoover declared one day a week “meatless,” two days “wheatless,” another “sweetless,” and two other days “porkless.”  Restaurants around the country removed sugar bowls and would serve bread only after the first course.
These articles discuss the rationing of food, and describe how Americans supported the war by conserving for the benefit of the Allies.

Essential Question
How does military conflict impact a national economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the strategies used to counter the economic strains of the war and explain how these strategies would contribute to the war effort.