National Academies Press: OpenBook

The Problem of Changing Food Habits: Report of the Committee on Food Habits 1941-1943 (1943)

Chapter: Rationing and Morale, November 21, 1942

« Previous: Local Food Sufficiency, September 26, 1942 and November 21, 1942
Suggested Citation:"Rationing and Morale, November 21, 1942." National Research Council. 1943. The Problem of Changing Food Habits: Report of the Committee on Food Habits 1941-1943. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9566.
Page 160
Suggested Citation:"Rationing and Morale, November 21, 1942." National Research Council. 1943. The Problem of Changing Food Habits: Report of the Committee on Food Habits 1941-1943. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9566.
Page 161

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RATIONING AND MORALE * NOVEMBER 2 I, I 942 This session was devoted to a series of papers describer, the rationing systems in other countries and a discussion of the possible application and acceptance in this country. Mr. Sven Dahlman, of the Legation of Sweden, described the Swedish system, in which all the important staple foods except milk, potatoes and other vegetables, and fish are rationed. Milk rationing has been avoided only by diluting the milk ION and by limiting cheese production to less than a third of the normal. Point rationing has been used for bread and flour prod- ucts and for meat. Those doing hard labor are given extra rations. Since prices on some of the unrationed foodstuffs have risen considerably, arrange- ments have been made so that people below a certain income level can buy some of the most important commodities at reduced prices. Very little objec- tion has been made to this system in principal, although many people have been reluctant to accept the price-reduction cards. Democratic cooperation, has been used as the basis for the rationing system. It has been well accepted, probably partly due to the Government's efforts to interpret the various regu- lations and the encroachrr~ents on private life and habits, to the educational efforts of cooperating civic organizations and public authorities, and to the fact that the chairman of the Board in each community, upon whom rests much of the responsibility for the actual ' working of the system, is a member of that community. There is never an advance announcement of rationing, and since in many cases it has been introduced before act'ual shortage forced it, there has been surprisingly little hoarding. Mr. E. M. Lloyd, of the British Food Mission, described the British sys- tem and emphasized that control must not be merely bureaucratic, but de- pends upon willing cooperation and the spirit of democratic self-government. At the present time most foods are rationed except for bread and flour, pota- toes, carrots and other vegetables, and fish. A value ration is used for meat, that is, the consumer is permitted to spend a certain amount of money weekly for meat; this implies uniform wholesale and retail prices for meat, which is possible only because the Government does all'the buying and importing. Point rationing has been applied to a wide range' of miscellaneous groceries, including canned meats and fish, and cereals, and also to clothing. Extra allowances of food per meal are given to the factory canteens, which provide the mid-day meal and are compulsory in all factories employing more than ~50 workers. Other canteens have been established for heavy workers not in factories, and an additional cheese ration is made available for agricultural and railroad men who could not be served by ~ canteen. The greatest atten * See minutes of the Liaison Session Of the Committee on Food Habits, November IT, 94z, under this title. ~60

Rationing able! Morale I6I tion has been given to the production of milk, which is supplied at lull price or free to mothers and children, depending upon income level. Rationing is believed to have contributed to the improvement in the general level of nutri- tion in England. Sirs. Frances Rintz, of the Office of Price Administration, reviewed the German rationing system, which differs principally from those in other coun- tries by being part of a total economic plan. It is recognized of importance to morale in any country to guarantee the presence of the ration through planned allocation of food, to make it possible for all holders of coupons to take up their full ration regardless of income through fixed or controlled prices, and to provide for special groups in the population. In Germany a complex system of differential rationing, apparent mainly in the rations of meat' bread, fats, arid oils, has been worked out, with nine different categories of people according to age and occupation. Special attempts have been made to compensate for inadequacies in the diet by the differential use of synthetic vitamins or special allotments of foods with high vitamin content. Since every consumer desires to obtain his full share of goods, it is felt that the rationing system has led to a significant leveling out of food consumption among the richer and poorer groups of the population. A device to avoid the black market is the occasional issuance of an extra allotment of a commodity for which other coupons may be exchanged and spent. The ensuing discussion brought out the importance of recognizing three main problems in regard to rationing: that ' steps must be taken to insure that the food permitted by the ration is available, that there must be effec- tive demand, i.e., sufficient purchasing power on the part of all members of .. . .. . . .. . . .. . .. . . . the population tor using their coupons, and that allowances must be made for regional or national differences. In regard to the first, some problems to be met in insuring the ration were the increasing difficulties in produc- tion, the growing estimates of non-civilian food requirements, and the waste of food, particularly in restaurants. Rationing is one answer to waste, but may be difficult to introduce at this late date because of the prevalent atti- tude that "it can't happen here,'; and also because it is still thought of as a last resort, rather than as a means of putting the full energies of the country into the war effort. Suggestions as to how effective demand might be made certain were ~) to add a subsidy to the basic rationing control in order to increase the purchasing power of the lower income groups, z) to make coupons valid for only a limited period of time, and 3) to make basic alloca- tion of food supplies like 'milk. The points system, with advantages to the consumer in terms of freedom of choice and particularly freedom to use any number of stores rather than being tied to one, was discussed. This would mean in the IJnited States a very tight control at the primary distribution point where the coupons would be collected, which is more complex than that in Britain where the government itself sells to the distributor. Since people generally feel they must use all their ration, it was thought that the nutritional level would be raised as a result of rationing foods which should be a part of the diet.'

Next: Feeding Liberated Countries and Nutrition Education, January 23, 1943 »
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