Food Rationing in Great Britain

January 1, 1943

Report Outline
Extension of Food Rationing in United States
General Administration of British Rationing Schemes
Operation of British Ration Programs
Special Focus

Extension of Food Rationing in United States

British Pattern for American Food Rationing

Extension of food rationing systems in the United States during 1943 will follow the broad outlines of procedures tested in Great Britain over the past three years. Many details of British rationing programs also will be adopted in this country; other details will be applied in altered form to take account of differences in productive capacity and climate, but still other details will be rejected because of significant differences in the military and political situations of the two nations and differences in the psychological attitudes of their peoples.

Details of future rationing programs for the United States have not yet been fully worked out, but the Office of Price Administration announced, December 2, that a point system similar to that now in use in Britain for certain foods would be utilized when meat rationing began in the late winter of 1943. Speaking to the War Congress of American Industry on December 3, Leon Henderson, director of O. P. A., made it clear that many more food items would be rationed during 1943, and four days later he emphasized that he did not mean merely an extension of present rationing methods to cover an increased number of articles, but also that “new rationing techniques… will be applied.”

A tightened control over food supplies was foreshadowed by an Executive Order of December 6 which placed full responsibility for the nation's food program, including civilian rationing, in the hands of the Secretary of Agriculture. As Food Administrator, Secretary Wickard will exercise his powers over food rationing through the Office of Price Administration. He told a press conference, December 10, that despite increasing restrictions on food supplies the American people would continue to fare better than the British people—if only in having a more varied diet—because “they [the British] have a shipping problem which we haven't.” If food was conserved, Wickard added, no one need go hungry. A fortnight later, on December 27, Wickard ordered the rationing of some 200 kinds of commercially processed fruits, vegetables, juices, and soups. The rationing program for these canned and dried foods is expected to be placed in operation in February. Distribution will be controlled by the point method of rationing. Quantity rationing of sugar began on May 5, 1942, and the same system became effective, November 29, for the rationing of coffee.

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