Rationing During WWII

War on the Homefront


The government introduced rationing during WWII because of the short supply of many items due to the war. It was a way to give everyone a fair share of the high demand items. Not a single individual went unaffected by the war, and rationing meant sacrifices for all.

What was rationing? Why did we need it?

In 1942, the Food Rationing Program was launched as a way for the government to control the supply and demand. Rationing regulated how much of any certain commodity any one person could obtain. Families had to register and were given coupon books that had family-specific numbers of coupons so that items would be evenly distributed.

The war posed the difficulty of having enough supplies for both the troops fighting and for those at home in America. Rationing helped accomplish this by giving allotted amounts to the troops and dividing the remaining supplies and commodities to Americans through coupon books, stamps, and point systems.

Video Caption

This message from the Office of War Information was a propaganda tool to help reinforce the idea behind rationing and other wartime efforts.

Help or Harm?

One side-effect to rationing was the development of the black market, in which people could buy more of a certain item, but at a higher price. Recycling was also a side-effect, however it was a positive one. Things such as recycled aluminum cans meant soldiers would have more ammunition.

Rationing didn't end until 1946. Americans went back to normal and the consumption of meat, butter, and sugar inevitably rose. There were no big or lasting negative effects of rationing.