CARE Package

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The CARE Package was the original unit of aid distributed by the humanitarian organization CARE (Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere). Originally CARE was dubbed the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, and in 1946 CARE sent the world's first CARE Package.  Although "CARE Package" is a registered trademark,[1] the term has since[2] been widely adopted as a generic term for a parcel of food or supplies sent for relief or comfort purposes.

CARE International[edit]

CARE was originally founded as an organization to help support people affected by World War II. Since then, CARE has developed into an international NGO that works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. CARE seeks a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live with dignity and security. CARE puts women and girls at the center of their work. CARE believes that the world cannot overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities. CARE works to provide community-based efforts to improve basic education, increase access to quality healthcare, respond to humanitarian crises and expand economic opportunity for all.  CARE works in nearly 100 countries reaching over 70 million people through over 950 development and aid programs.  

CARE champions human rights.

The Original CARE Package[edit]


In 1945, the newly formed CARE (then the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe) initiated a program to send food relief to Europe, where large numbers of people were at risk of starvation in the wake of World War II. Arthur Ringland and Dr. Lincoln Clark approached 22 American charities to propose a non-profit corporation to funnel food parcels from Americans to loved ones in Europe. The charities agreed and on November 27, they incorporated CARE.

CARE's leaders worked with the U.S. Army to acquire 2.8 million Army surplus "10-in-1" food rations that had been stockpiled for an invasion of Japan that never transpired. These parcels, a form of MRE (Meals Ready to Eat), were sent to Europe. These rations become the world's first CARE Packages. After six months, CARE delivered the first CARE Packages to the battered port city of Le Havre, France.

Americans were given the opportunity to purchase a CARE Package for $10 to send to friends or relatives in Europe. Packages were guaranteed to arrive within four months. Even when a donor did not know an address of a recipient, CARE would find that person using the last address known. The CARE package thus became a "missing persons" service in the chaos following World War II.

President Harry Truman, Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower asked Americans to support CARE. The purchase of the first CARE Package was made by President Truman himself.[3] By year's end, CARE had operations in 10 European nations.  CARE developed other kinds of CARE Packages, including wool and baby food. CARE created a distribution system, regional sales offices, and stepped up promotion with advertisements featuring actor Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.

Founding Charities[edit]

Following are the original 22 founding organizations that supported CARE and the original CARE Package

  • American Christian Committee for Refugees, INC
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • American Jewish Join Distribution Committee, INC
  • American Relief for Czechoslovakia, INC
  • American Relief for France Inc,
  • American Relief for Norway INC
  • American Relief for Poland
  • Committee on Christian Science Wartime Activities for the Mother Church
  • Congressional Christian Services Committee (United Church for World Ministries)
  • Cooperative League of the USA
  • International Rescue and Relief Committee
  • National CIO War Relief Committee
  • Paderewski Testimonial Fund
  • Save the Children Federation
  • Tolstoy Foundation
  • Unitarian Service Committee
  • United Lithuanian Relief Fund of America
  • United Ukrainian American Relief Committee
  • United Yugoslav Relief Fund of America
  • War Relief Services, National Catholic Welfare Conference (Catholic Relief Services)
  • YMCA- World Emergency and War Victims Fund


The content of a CARE Package in West Germany 1948

The first CARE Packages contained:

  • one pound (450 g) of beef in broth
  • one pound (450 g) of steak and kidneys
  • 8 ounces (230 g) of liver loaf
  • 8 ounces (230 g) of corned beef
  • 12 ounces (340 g) of luncheon loaf (like Spam)
  • 8 ounces (230 g) of bacon
  • two pounds (910 g) of margarine
  • one pound (450 g) of lard
  • one pound (450 g) of fruit preserves
  • one pound (450 g) of honey
  • one pound (450 g) of raisins
  • one pound (450 g) of chocolate
  • two pounds (910 g) of sugar
  • 8 ounces (230 g) of powdered eggs
  • two pounds (910 g) of whole-milk powder
  • two pounds (910 g) of coffee


The first 20,000 packages reached the port of Le Havre, France, on May 11, 1946. Over the course of the next two decades 100 million more packages were delivered, initially in Europe and later in Asia and other parts of the developing world.[4]

Initially, senders had to specify a recipient for a package, but over the course of time the nature of distribution changed and packages were sent to target areas as opposed to specific individuals.

On June 5, 1946 the prohibition against sending CARE packages to occupied Germany was rescinded.[5] On June 6 General Lucius D. Clay signed the CARE treaty permitting the distribution of packages in the U.S. occupation zone, on June 21 the British also signed the treaty. Marie Pierre Kœnig signed the treaty in December 1946, thus permitting the distribution of CARE packages also in the French occupation zone. The first CARE packages for distribution in the U.S. zone landed in Bremen harbor in August 1946, while the first packages for the French zone were distributed in Freiburg in December 1946. By 1960, when operations in West Germany ended CARE had distributed 83,000 tonnes of aid in West Germany. Operations continued until 1962 in West Berlin.

CARE phased out CARE Packages in the 1960s as its work began to focus on long-term projects in addition to emergency relief.[4]

Berlin Airlift[edit]

From the beginning of the Allied occupation of Berlin until the beginning of the Berlin Airlift, CARE Packages accounted for 60 percent of private foreign relief supplies brought into Berlin. During the course of the blockade, 500,000 CARE Packages were among the supplies airlifted into the city[6] coining the term "raisin bombers" among German children. The first truck to enter the city after the blockade carried CARE Packages.

CARE Package 2020[edit]

In May 2020, CARE launched a new CARE Package in order to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Today's CARE Package marks the first time CARE has included the United States in the list of countries requiring urgent humanitarian support. CARE Packages for Frontline Heroes and CARE Package Relief are CARE's first U.S.-based aid initiatives. In addition to the U.S. distribution, CARE will launch CARE Packages for Global Communities, which will allow donors to support COVID-19 initiatives in Ecuador and Sierra Leone.[7]

Today's CARE Package features ways to support frontline, medical workers, caregivers, individuals in need, and communities in the U.S. and around the world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with digital, physical, and financial support.  The program will provide monetary assistance, food, and essential supplies to individuals in need and at risk in the form of CARE Packages.[7]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Smithsonian National Museum of American History: "CARE Package"
  2. ^ Online Etymology Dictionary
  3. ^ "Arthur Ringland Oral History Interview | Harry S. Truman". Retrieved 2020-05-28.
  4. ^ a b "CARE History". Archived from the original on 2007-04-18. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
  5. ^ Note: Food relief shipments to Germany were prohibited by the Allies until December 1945, since "they might tend to negate the policy of restricting the German standard of living to the average of the surrounding European nations". "CARE package shipments to individuals remained prohibited until 5 June 1946". The U.S. Army In The Occupation of Germany 1944-1946 by Earl F. Ziemke Footnotes to chapter 23, Further referenced to: (1) Memo, European Section Theater Group, OPD, for L & LD, sub: Establishment of Civilian Director of Relief, 8 Dec 45, in OPD, ABC 336 (sec. IV) (cases 155-). (2) OMGUS, Control Office, Hist Br, History of U.S. Military Government in Germany, Public Welfare, 9 Jul 46, in OMGUS 21-3/5.
  6. ^ "CARE Canada 1999 Annual Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-03. Retrieved 2007-04-19.
  7. ^ a b ktalwar (2020-04-29). "International NGO CARE Launches new 'CARE Package' to help US Essential Workers and Caregivers on the Frontlines of COVID-19". CARE. Retrieved 2020-05-28.