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A STUDY 01? THE EFFECTS OF ODD SHIFTS UPON THE FOOO HABITS OF WAR WORKERS GLADYS E~-GEL-FRISCH Changing occupational rhythms are bringing about changes in the food habits of war workers throughout the country. In February of ~94~, 4070 of all war workers were on atypical work shifts A study of ~o8 war workers in Seattle and Bremerton, Washington, attempted to answer two broad ques- tions concerning the effects of these atypical shifts: ~) what are the impli- cations for food habits of working on orate of the two atypical work shifts; ~) what indications are there of ways in which these dislocations in food habits could be compensated for if the effect is found to be bad, or taken advantage of if the effect is found to be good ? Seattle and Bremerton, being typical defense boom towns, present pictures of the problems facing the average odd-shift worker. Shifts are generally spoken of as the first, second, and third shifts. In general, the first, or dray shift, starts between 6:30 a.m. and 8:oo a.m. and runs until 3 :oo p.m. or 4 :30 p.m. The second or swing shift begins when the day shift ends and ends about midnight or ~ :oo a.m. The night or graveyard shift begins at the end of the swing shift and ends at the beginning of the day shift. While hours on the odd-shifts differ for the individual workers, they are similar enough so that one can speak of the swing shift worker or the graveyard shift worker. The average odd-shift worker in the study was found to be male, only one government shipyard and one aircraft company hiring women for manual jobs. He is on the average 3~ years of age, and there is better than an even chance that he is married. If he is married, chances are four out of five that his wife is not working. He probably has one child and this child is most likely to be of pre-school age. The worker is engaged in manual activity and most likely he has come to Seattle or Bremerton within the past year. If he is employed as an aircraft worker or in a private shipyard, he is a union member. He probably has worked on the day shift all his life. Although he is now on an odd-shift, there is almost an even chance that he still prefers the day shift. He decidedly prefers the swing shift as opposed to the graveyard shift. Advantages relating to sleeping appear to be the reason he will most often give for preferring a particular shift. Two groups of responses, those relating to sleep, and those relating to advantages of both sleeping and eating, con- stitute almost one-third of the total reasons given for preference. The ad- vantage of sleeping late in the morning appears to be a significant reason for his preference of the swing shift over the graveyard shift. However, when both advantages as to sleeping and eating are considered, he definitely pre- fers the regular day shift to either odd-shift. The day shift is "natural" to him. The older he is, the less likely it seems that he will prefer the graveyard 82
Food Habits of War Workers 83 or swing shift. If he is over 35, there is a greater probability that he will prefer the day shift. If he has worked only the graveyard shift, he is less likely to prefer the graveyard shift than he is to prefer the swing shift if he has worked only swing shift. He decidedly does not like the idea of alternating shifts, especially in short time intervals, because of the amount of time (at least one month) which it takes to adjust to a new shift. Place of employment (aircraft, private shipyard, government shipyard), type of domestic arrangement (with family, rooming, batching, boarding), type of work (clerical, manual), and length of time on the shift, are found to have no significant relationship to his adjustment to the odd-shift. In comparing adjustments made ire food habits on the two principal types of odd-shifts, food habits are found to be integrally related to sleeping habits. Although there is no significant difference in the number of hours of sleep the typical graveyard shifter gets as compared to the number of hours of sleep of the average swing shifter, the lower average hours of sleep of the night worker is found to be suggestive. Over one-fourth of those on the graveyard shift sleep' less than seven hours a night while only about 47o secure that little sleep on the swing shift. Sleep on the graveyard shift is often broken and restless because of daytime noises. On the swing shift, the arrangement of sleeping hours is almost unanimous, with 80 of the 86 swing shift workers sleeping during the night following their return from work. The graveyard shifter may either sleep during the daytime following the return from work or split his sleep into two parts. The swing shifter is less apt to eat before sleeping than the graveyard shifter and while his typical "retirement" meal is a snack that of the right worker in breakfast. , (= , _ , c, . . The odd-shift worker averages about three and a third meals per day. The only "normal" meal neglected by the worker on the night shift is breakfast. There is a substitution of snacks for regular meals among the swing shifters, about ~67o not eating dinner, and redo skipping breakfast. Where break- fast and dinner are eaten by the graveyard shifter, they' are, in general, 'eaten at the time of day usually associated with these meals. On the swing shift, each meal appears to be, on the average, about three hours later than is usual on the day routine. The worker attempts to adjust his food habits to the "normal" day with as little substitution and change' as possible. The swing shift sleeps during the night, following the usual pattern. If he eats before he retires, he eats a snack as most people will do in the early morning hours. Upon waking, since it is morning, and since he has just risen, he makes his first meal break- fast. If he eats about noon or later in the afternoon, the next meal, because of the time factor, is more likely to be lunch or dinner. Likewise, the grave- yard shifter makes his first meal in the morning (if one is eaten) breakfast. He then sleeps and wakes for the family dinner in late afternoon. While a few odd-shifters substitute breakfast for dinner, or vice versa, in general, workers on both shifts attempt to fit their new occupational rhythms to the old one. Time of day, because of tradition, is the most important factor determining what kind of' a meal will be eaten, except in the case of the
84 The Problems of Changing Food Haltits meal eaten at the plant where tradition alone determines the meal to be eaten. Since traditional times of eating are most changed in the swing shift, food habit adjustment is more difficult on that shift than on the night shift. Esti- mation is that from one-half to three-fourths of the odd-shift workers lack proper nutrition, but there is no significant difference between the two shifts. More swing shift workers eat by themselves than do those on the graveyard shift. Complaints and suggestions from the worker center about cafeteria condi- tions, lengthening of lunch periods, variety in box lunches, the need of nursery schools, and family relationship problems precipitated by odd-shift conditions. He does not think a ~5 minute lunch period is long enough, although a half- hour appears to be sufficient. He gets tired of the lack of variety in his box lunch, and wants a hot meal on a cold day. A cafeteria, to compete with the box lunch, must serve varied, tasty food at a reasonable price, in the short lunch period Family problems arise when -children work on different shifts than the father, where his wife is on another shift. and when there are small , children whose sleeping habits differ from the worker's. Nursery scl~ooIs were suggested as a part solution of the problem. Problem areas, then, center about these points: poor plant cafeterias; no cafeteria; poor restaurants in the plant area, often inaccessible; lack of eat- ing facilities for the graveyard shifters; failure of older workers to adjust eating end sleeping habits to odd-shift requirements; difficulty of food habit adjustment on the swing shift; difficulty of sleeping adjustment on the grave- yard shift; nutritional deficiencies on both shifts; interference of recreational needs with physical needs, and vice versa; family problems caused by the new occupational rhythms. Recommendations called for include: at least a half-hour period, prefer- ably with pay, if efficiency is actually found to be speeded by the longer period of time; adequate cafeteria service for all shifts; sale of well-balanced lunches in plants; nutritional education for heads of families and of boarding houses; an industrial policy of putting older men on day shift except where odd-shift is specifically requested; pooling of information concerning daily schedules through governmental studies and trade-union workers, followed by suggestions to workers; cooperation between agencies interested in recrea- tional and food habits; segregation of workers on separate shifts, where possible, in boarding houses and in governmental defense housing projects; well-equipped, adequately staffed nursery schools for small- children; careful consideration of requests for shift change where reason centers about shift status of other members of the family. Trends in hiring at the present time point to an increasing number of women entering industry as the war continues, an increasing proportion of older men remaining in industry as young men are called to active military service, and an increasing proportion of workers on odd-shifts as war indus- tries become continuous-process industries. Recommendations given here, if worked out, should make the changes necessitated by these trends easier and more efficient in the making.