Rationing on the Homefront During World War II

To help prevent a shortage of food and goods necessary during World War II, the federal government began to ration everything with a strategic value. Special coupon books were issued to every man, woman, and child in the united states. Without the coupon books, you could not buy certain items like sugar, meat, tires, or fuel oil. Americans were asked to turn down their thermostats to conserve fuel in colder months and grow more food in their backyard gardens.


Transcript

Although farmers had been asked to produce as much as possible it was still not enough to feed both a hungry nation and millions of people in the military. To help prevent a shortage for those in uniform, the federal government began to ration everything with a strategic value. Special coupon books were issued to every man, woman, and child in the United States. Without the coupon books, you could not buy certain items like sugar, meat, tires, or gasoline. 

“I think every time before the baby was wiped off, why, everybody was going to sign him up for a ration card. And you get one for the baby when he's born. Obviously he wasn't able to use all the stuff that you could buy with those coupons. And those coupon books were coveted. As usual, you know, a lot of swapping going on. If you had a ration card for pickles and you didn't like pickles, you could trade it with somebody.”


Excerpt from "Iowa's WWII Stories," Iowa PBS, 2006