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U.S. Food Administrator

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 ownFood Administrator Drawing 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 War Ad: Sugarbefore 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.

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Last updated: June 20, 2001