United States Food Administration

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Poster with a patriotic theme to save food (1917), issued when domestic food restrictions were applied to support the war effort.

The United States Food Administration (1917–1920) was an independent Federal agency that controlled the production, distribution and conservation of food in the U.S. during the nation's participation in World War I. It was established to prevent monopolies and hoarding, and to maintain government control of foods through voluntary agreements and licensing. The agency was established by Executive Order 2679-A of August 10, 1917, pursuant to the Food and Fuel Control Act, and was abolished by Executive Order 3320 on August 21, 1920. Herbert Hoover was appointed to serve as Food Administrator.[1]

One of the agency's important tasks was the stabilization of the price of wheat on the U.S. market. Concepts such as "meatless Mondays" and "wheatless Wednesdays" were also implemented to help ration food, so that the government could prioritize the war effort.

Branches of the United States Food Administration were set up in all states as well as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. The agency had broad powers but few mechanisms for enforcement of its policies. It relied largely upon patriotic appeals and voluntary compliance in the formal absence of rationing.[1]


Mina Van Winkle, in Food Administration uniform, explains Victory gardening and explains recommended food processing.

The appointment of Hoover[edit]

Woodrow Wilson realised he would need a dynamic leader to ensure the Food administration was effective. His advisor, Edward House suggested Herbert Hoover who had previously run the Commission for Relief in Belgium. Walter Hines Page, the British ambassador, endorsed this choice and Wilson, a Democrat agreed although Hoover was a Republican.[2] Hoover accepted the position only on the basis that he would have a completely free hand as regards the Washington bureaucracy, which in particular referred to David F. Houston, the Secretary of Agriculture. Despite initial resistance Houston acquiesced and Hoover was appointed.[2]

Grain Corporation[edit]

The administration employed its Grain Corporation, organized under the provisions of the Food Control Act of August 10, 1917, as an agency for the purchase and sale of foodstuffs. Having done transactions in the size of $7 billion, the United States Food Administration was rendered obsolete by the armistice in Europe. President Woodrow Wilson promoted its transition in a new agency for the support of the reconstruction of Europe. It became the American Relief Administration, approved by an Act (Public, No. 274, 65th Congress) on February 25, 1919.

The Food Administration Grain Corporation became the United States Grain Corporation pursuant to Executive Order 3087 of May 14, 1919.

Poster gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Records of the United States Food Administration". The National Archives at Fort Worth. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Buschman, Neil O. (2013). "The United States Food Administration During World War I: The Rise of Activist Government Through Food Control During Mobilization for Total War". Auburn University Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Auburn University. Retrieved 14 September 2018.

Further reading[edit]

  • Frank M. Surface / Raymond L. Bland: American Food in the World War and Reconstruction Period. Operations of the Organizations Under the Direction of Herbert Hoover 1914 to 1924, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1931

External links[edit]