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Rationing in WWII
Before the Second World War began, Britain imported about 55 million tons of food from many different countries every year.
When war began in September 1939 this importing was stopped because the ships were being torpedoed by German submarines.
There was a worry that this would lead to a shortage of food supplies in the shops so rationing was introduced in January 1940.
Everyone was issued with a ration book containing coupons that had to be handed to the shop keeper when buying goods.
Bacon, butter and sugar were the first foods to be rationed, followed by others such as meat, eggs, cheese and milk. Potatoes, fruit and fish were not rationed.
To buy restricted foods, people handed their ration book to the shop keeper. They removed the coupons and took the appropriate amount of money.
People were encouraged to grow their own foodPeople were encouraged to grow their own food. The ‘dig for victory’ campaign asked every man, woman and child to keep an allotment.
Gardens and parks were used to grow vegetables to eat at homeGardens and parks were used to grow vegetables to eat at home. Children were encouraged to get involved by digging and planting seeds.
Scraps of food were kept to feed to pigs and other animalsScraps of food were kept to feed to pigs and other animals. Kitchen waste was kept in big bins and collected to feed the animals.
Clothing rationing began in June 1941Clothing rationing began in June There was a shortage of cloth to make clothes so people were encouraged to ‘make do and mend’.
To buy new clothes people used coupons as well as moneyTo buy new clothes people used coupons as well as money. Every person had a clothes ration book which allowed them one new outfit a year.
Food rationing lasted for 14 years in BritainFood rationing lasted for 14 years in Britain. Following the end of the war in 1945, rationing continued until ending in 1954.
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