Food Conservation During World War I
Before the U.S. entered WWI, Hoover played an integral role in the Commission for Relief in Belgium. Occupied by Germany and under British blockade, a solution was needed to feed the Belgian people. Hoover negotiated with Britain and Germany to allow food relief.
Rather than imposing forced rationing during WWI, the U.S. Food Administration used poster art as propaganda to encourage food conservation, substitution, and augmentation. These efforts provided the U.S. troops and Allies with the necessary sustenance for combat. Voluntary food rationing became a sign a patriotism and changed the eating habits of the American people.
Americans were encouraged to eat less meat, eggs, wheat, and sugar. Wheat was easier to ship, which is why Americans were asked to eat other grains and starches. Food shipments to Europe doubled within a year.
Supplies like wheat, sugar, and oil were used to make doughnuts by the Salvation Army. Doughboys and Lassies became symbols of the war.
Local grocers used to employ many men to fetch, ring up, and deliver groceries. With the advent of the supermarket, customers took on these tasks and enjoyed lower prices as a result.
Research, text, and arrangement by Dana Puga, Prints and Photographs Collection Specialist, Manuscripts & Special Collections Department. Editing and assistance from Sonya Coleman, Digital Collections Specialist.
Imaging by Ben Steck, Photo & Digital Imaging Services Department.
Images from the Visual Studies Collection, Manuscripts & Special Collections, Library of Virginia.