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Pathfinder Pack on World War Two: Rationing

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Introduction

The German effort to cut off supplies to the British Isles during World War Two meant that food and textile imports virtually ceased. It was decided that a system of rationing would be introduced so that the available food was shared equally amongst the British population. The Royal Family even had ration books and ate the same food as everyone else. Food Rationing was introduced at the start of the war to make sure everyone got a fair share of available food. The weekly food ration for an adult during World War Two included 4oz of ham or bacon, between 2oz and 8oz of cheese, 4oz of margarine, 2oz of butter, 8oz of sugar, 2oz of tea, 1 egg and 3 pints of milk. Some meat, such as sausages, liver and offal, was not rationed but was scarce. Most meat, however, was rationed - not by weight but in money. The limit was one shilling and tuppence (1s/2d) worth of meat per week and for that you could buy 2 lamb/pork chops or 12oz mince/stewing steak. You were also entitled to 1 packet of skimmed milk, 1 packet of dried eggs, 12oz of sweets and 8oz of jam every 4 weeks. Bread, vegetables and potatoes were not rationed, but were not always available. Fish was not rationed during World War Two and this led to a rapid increase in the consumption of fish and chips. Restaurants reported record numbers of customers and chip shops started opening during the day to meet demand. The National Milk Scheme was set up in 1940 to ensure that pregnant women and children under 5 received a pint of milk a day. It was available free or at a subsidised price, depending on your income. The scheme was widened to include more people as milk production was increased. In times of milk shortages, dried milk powder known as Household Milk was available as a substitute. With so little available, people were encouraged to 'Dig for Britain' and grow their own food. Recipe books were published that used alternative ingredients in place of these. Carrots and Potatoes were used in cake making and so were leftovers. Bins were provided so that scraps of food could be collected and used to feed farm animals. Clothes rationing was introduced. Factories making clothes and other textiles were turned over to the war effort and people were encouraged to make their own clothes or mend old ones. Stockings were especially hard to find and women would try to recreate the look of stockings by painting their bare legs with gravy browning and drawing a line with eyeliner up the back to look like a stocking seam. Petrol was in short supply during World War Two and cars became a rare sight on Scottish roads. Petrol coupons were issued to people whose work was considered important enough to qualify. These included doctors and farmers, who required petrol for tractors and other farm machinery. Ordinary folk relied on more traditional forms of transport, like horses and carts.

Accompanying materials

Schools

World War Two: Rationing

Ration books & coupons Weekly rations Wartime recipe book
National Milk Scheme Temporary ration cards for servicemen for home leave Article on fish & chips
Petrol rationing 'Make Do & Mend'
Scran ID: 000-000-001-467-L
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