Here you will find information about rationing, the first school dinners...
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Information about rationing
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Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, or services, or an artificial restriction of demand. Rationing controls the size of the ration, which is one's allotted portion of the resources being distributed on a particular day or at a particular time.
Lots of food was sent away to feed the soldiers fighting in the war. There was also less food arriving from other countries because ships bringing supplies were often attacked by German submarines called U-boats.
FoFood Queue.jpgod became very expensive. People panicked and soon there were very long queues outside shops. Food queues formed of women and children became a common sight in cities across Europe.

Government posters encouraged families to save food so there would be more to feed the soldiers fighting.
In the countryside, many men and farm horses had been sent off to war. They were replaced by women who worked hard to grow the much-needed food. They called themselves 'The Women's Land Army'. Conscientious objectors (men who felt morally opposed to fighting) also worked the land.
Many children helped too, but without horses to pull the heavy ploughs it was really tough work.
The first school dinners
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School dinners were introduced because lots of children were missing school to queue for food. Mothers also queuing didn't have time to cook dinner and children were going hungry.
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World War I poster. 1917.
Don't waste it'

In 1918, new laws set by the government introduced rationing, a way of sharing food fairly. Sugar, meat, flour, butter, margarine and milk were all rationed so that everyone got what they needed.
Each person had special ration cards, even King George and Queen Mary.
The cards could only be used at certain shops. Families had to say which butcher, baker and grocer they would buy food from.
The rules were very strict. Anyone found cheating could be fined or even sent to prison.
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Before rationing, the government used posters like this one to discourage people from wasting food.

Grow your own
People grew fruit and vegetables in their own gardens too. Surplus produce was preserved as jam, pickles or chutney so there would be more to eat in the winter. People were often hungry, but nobody starved. The war took men and horses away from farm work. Imports of nitrate fertilizers were hit. Reduced agricultural output forced up prices and encouraged hoarding. Governments responded by putting price controls on staple foodstuffs.<Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationing
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/0/ww1/25235371
http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/war/campaigns.htm

Google images

Dig for Victory

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Dig for Victory was a response to a wartime problem of food shortages. Throughout history one of the main reasons wars were lost was lack of food. Cargo ships were also used for war materials rather than food transportation. This resulted in food shortages.

In October 1939 the Government launched 'The Dig for Victory' campaign. People were urged to use gardens and every spare piece of land, such as parks, golf clubs and tennis courts, to grow vegetables. Even the moat at the Tower of London was used to grow vegetables.

"We want not only the big man with the plough but the little man with the spade to get busy this autumn. Let 'Dig for Victory' be the motto of everyone with a garden."

Rob Hudson, Minister for Agriculture, in October 1939.












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In War-mum, there are interesting testimonies about the women-pensioners’ rationing.
Page 3 Mrs Crane.
“Mr and Mrs bird had to provide us with be, breakfast, evening meal and sandwiches for mid-day. That depends what you mean by sandwiches. We had four slices of bread, very thinly cut, and she wafted the knife over the margarine, then wafted hat onto our bread, slapped a lettuce leaf on the top and if you were very very lucky, she did the same with some fish paste.
She made money out of it, because the lettuce was grown in the garden, and the bread was certainly not door steps. The breakfast were oats boiled in water, so you had a plate of grey nasty water with lumps in, because she could never manage to get the lumps out”.

Page 21 Dolores (was born in North Africa, in Tangiers).
“At the beginning, living in England was very hard. We weren´t allowed any rations books at first, so we were supplied by the Lyons company and, of course, the food wasn´t very good. I used to go out on the black market and bring home food, rice, a bit of cooking fat”.

Page 23 Mrs Burtenshaw.
“Sometimes you would sit there and eat your sandwiches. You could have a lunch break, but that was in your own time”.

Page 47 Rose Martin.
“Every time you went for your rations, or you made our daily or weekly trip to the shops to pick the rations up for the week, you could be up to two or three hours in a queue, and people talked. They would relay their experiences of a raid, or talk about food, and different things you could do with making the rations stretch.
You had three types of rations books, buff book for an adult, a blue book for a child aged five and over, and a green book for a baby. A green book was always the priority book, so that if bananas, eggs, oranges, or anything like that came in, you got preference on the green book”.
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Page 66 Ruth Granville.
There were lots of petty things like that. I went to Miss Grafton one day and said I thought the girls ought to have a morning break. The men used to have tea brought into them in the afternoon and morning, and cakes on a trolley, and there was me sitting there watching them, longing for a cup of tea. I got annoyed that the men should be treated differently, so I decided to go to the AEU meeting… At the finish we got a morning break, and a quarter of an hour for coffee or tea. We used to tell them to get back to their machines on time, or else we´d lose the breaks.

Rationing during the First World War
In Russia and Turkey the distribution of food broke down. The Russian revolution had its origins in urban food riots. In Turkey many starved. Austria-Hungary eventually succumbed to the same calamity.

Germany introduced numerous government controls on food production and sale, but these proved to be badly thought out and worsened the effects of the British naval blockade. Substitute foodstuffs were produced from a variety of unappetising ingredients, but their nutritional value was negligible and Germans became increasingly malnourished from 1916 onwards.

Germany’s campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare was intended to expose France, Italy and especially Britain to the same food crisis. These countries relied heavily upon imported grain and viewed the submarine campaign as a deadly threat. They attempted to increase their own food production, but their main success was in introducing successful systems of rationing. Britain introduced rationing in London early in 1918 and extended it nationwide by the summer. British civilians defied German expectations by accepting this state intrusion into their daily lives.


In January 1917, Germany started using U-boats (submarines) in order to sink all ships headed to Britain in an attempt to starve Britain into peace terms under their unrestricted submarine warfare programme. One response to this threat was to introduce voluntary rationing in February 1917,a scheme said to have been endorsed by the king and queen themselves. Bread was subsidised from September that year; prompted by local authorities taking matters into their own hands, compulsory rationing was introduced in stages between December 1917 and February 1918, as Britain's supply of wheat stores decreased to just six weeks' worth. It is said to have in the most part benefited the health of the country, through the 'levelling of consumption of essential foodstuffs'. To assist with rationing, ration books were introduced on 15 July 1918 for butter, margarine, lard, meat, and sugar. During the war, average energy intake decreased only three percent, but protein intake six percent.




Some links:


Dig for Victory
Imperial War Museum
Imperial War Museum, YouTube Channel
Wikipedia - Rationing
bbc - food and shopping
War Campaigns and Posters
Rationing and Food Shortage during The First World War