America declared war on Germany on April
6, 1917 and President Wilson called Herbert Hoover home to
take charge of food
organization in America. Hoover was appointed U.S.
Food Administrator. America had to provide food for her
armies and the other Allies, for the Allied peoples and for
the American people at home. Herbert Hoover saw the effort
as a willingness of the people to serve the nation
voluntarily. He called his program food conservation, but
many Americans called it "Hooverizing."
There were wheatless
Wednesdays and meatless Mondays, as examples.
Hoover had faith that the American people
would exhibit voluntary cooperation in the matter for food
conservation. He didn't want laws to regulate food in
America. Hoover's plan was that American homes would have to
eat in such a way as to leave more food to be shipped
abroad. He appealed to housewives to conserve food and
eliminate waste. Signs and posters proclaimed, "Food
Will Win the War." Hoover's program reduced domestic
consumption of food by 15% without rationing. For the farmer
there was "fair price" for agricultural products and
guaranteed markets for surplus. The result was that U.S.
food shipments tripled. He kept the American armies
fed and was able to build up surplus stores of food to
prevent a post-war famine in Europe.
At the war's end President Wilson sent
Herbert Hoover to Europe to survey how much food would be
needed to fight off starvation. The ARC (American Relief
Administration) would shortly become the major
source of food for 300 million people from 21
countries in Europe and the Middle East. Hoover could
not convince the allied powers that food should be provided
for Germany, even with the sound argument that stunted
bodies and deformed minds in the next generation would be a
poor foundation on which to rebuild civilization. Many
months were lost before
the Allies could come to an agreement to allow the Germans
to be fed.
The ARA officially ended on June 30, 1919,
but it was evident to Herbert Hoover that the children would
still suffer, so he devised the ARA European Children's Fund
as a private charitable organization. It fed the children
through the summer of 1921. The European Children's Fund was
supported by American donations and by sale of Food Draft
Packets. This was the origin of CARE packs.
Russia had been offered food relief in 1919
but they refused the terms of the ARA which stated that an
American was to be in charge of all foot stations to make
sure food was not distributed on a political or religious
basis. By 1921 Russia was in a severe famine, due to the
struggle against Germany, its civil war and a severe
drought, and so it accepted the ARA terms. When complaints
about aiding Bolshevism reached Herbert Hoover's ears, he
responded, "Twenty million people are starving, whatever
their politics they should be fed." Herbert Hoover was the
administrator of world relief. He was compelled by his
compassion, his conscience, and his pride in his workmanship
to commit himself fully to this task.
After Hoover's outstanding accomplishments in
Europe, he returned to the U.S. with his reputation secure
as a Great Engineer-the practical idealist. Newspapers
called him "a leading American." Hoover read this acclaim
skeptically, and proceeded to open mining offices in San
Francisco and New York. He and Mrs. Hoover began construction
on a home that Mrs. Hoover had been designing for years.
The house was planned for outdoor living, and was set on a
hill overlooking the Stanford campus.