Illinois at War, 1941-1945
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives

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October 1942


With soldiers consuming four and a half pounds of meat a week and sailors seven, it became evident that civilian consumption would have to be curtailed. Beginning in October 1942 the Food Requirements Committee of the federal War Production Board launched a "Share the Meat" campaign to voluntarily reduce demand in anticipation of rationing. Sweetbread and the other internal organs of beef, pork, and lamb were not restricted when actual meat rationing was instituted on March 29, 1943, nor were fish and poultry. Civilians who often worked long hard hours had the cash to buy better quality cuts but supplies simply were not available legally. Those willing to buy their favorite steaks or chops on the black market, which more often than not was the neighborhood butcher, could do so but at substantial cost. Most considered such practices to be immoral however.

A large number of men were rejected for military service due to defects caused by malnourishment. This fact was given much publicity and a balanced diet was viewed as a patriotic aid to the war effort. A massive educational program was undertaken in Illinois to teach good nutrition. The Red Cross, victory garden and food preparation committees of local defense councils, and the Home Economics Division of the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois worked hand in hand in this effort. Consumer information centers were established in 139 communities, mostly in public libraries. Classes were conducted in these centers and in schoolrooms and town meeting halls across the state. Informative posters, bulletins, and motion pictures were prepared and distributed. Almost daily, newspapers carried articles and recipes which advised readers on healthy eating and food substitutions.

Points to Consider

Why were the citizens of Madison County being called on to reduce their consumption of red meat?

Describe a meatless meal.

Why were variety meats and fish and poultry not restricted?

Was the limit of two and a half pounds of red meat a week for each civilian over age twelve an undue hardship?

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