Great Depression

After World War I the world fell into what is now called the Great Depression. It was a time of great economic loss that effected the raising generation for their entire lives. People lost all their money from the banks, there were no jobs, and people went hungry because they could not buy food. (Hall T.E., Ferguson J., 2011)

One vivid, gruesome moment of those dark days we shall never forget. We saw a crowd of some fifty men fighting over a barrel of garbage which had been set outside the back door of a restaurant. American Citizens fighting for scraps of food like animals!-Louise Armstrong, describing an incident she witnessed in Chicago in the spring of 1932 (Hall T.E., Ferguson J. pg. 1.)

Food was very scarce during the depression. In The Giving of Food the author tells about a meal during the depression. In the story his grandmother is about six years old, during this time the adults ate first, she was so hungry that instead of waiting for her turn to eat she stole a chicken leg. He then compares it to meal today in which she cooks an overabundance of food and ensures that everybody has eaten enough. Today, most people in the U.S. have plenty to eat but during the depression this was not the case. People often went hungry, food was prized. Today we have such abundance that we take it for granted. People who were raised during the depression still prize food. Like the author’s grandmother that fear of going hungry, of your loved ones going without stays with then. Food and nourishment is seen as a token of love. (Crenshaw, P. 2007).

The effects of needing to save and going without has affected not only the people that grew up during the depression but their descendants as well. When the elderly have passed on they leave belongings that they have collected from fear of not having enough. These collections can be of aluminum foil, paper, or even food. Imagine going thru your loved ones house and finding cans of food that are 5 or 10 years old because they won’t throw them away due to fear they may one day need that food.(USA Today Magazine)

Eleanor Roosevelt felt strongly about saving money while her husband was the president. The meals that she and President Roosevelt ate were cost effective as well as nutritious.  In order to ensure the meals where nutritious she obtained advice from the home-economics department at Cornell University. This project was to show to the United States citizens that you could have low cost meals without worrying about nutrients. In order to further this cause she also showed that you can produce great meals from homemade food instead of store brought food. (Shapiro, L. 2010)

Unfortunately for FDR, Eleanor was not worried about taste. You can have very tasty low cost foods but Eleanor was more worried about the nutritious and economic values of the meals. The meals at the white house became notorious for their bland and unappealing taste. Today of course taste is very important to the American consumer, most especially in healthy foods. (Shapiro, L. 2010)

One program to help people in these hard times was the Food Stamp Plan. This program allowed produce that was sitting on farms to be distributed to those who could not afford to eat. The way the system worked was that the person would purchase an orange stamp and would them be given blue stamps for free that would cover the cost of the surplus food. This program ended in 1943 but there are still many forms of food assistance for America’s poor. (Landers, P. S. 2007).



Crenshaw, P. (2007). The Giving of Food. Southwest Review, 92(2), 262-270. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Depression Era Mentality Haunts Baby Boomers. (2008). USA Today Magazine, 137(2763), 15.

Hall, T. E., & Ferguson, J. (2011). The great depression: an international disaster of perverse economic policies. United States of America: University of Michigan Press.

Landers, P. S. (2007). ▪The Food Stamp Program: History, Nutrition Education, and Impact. Journal Of The American Dietetic Association, 107(11), 1945-1951. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2007.08.009

Shapiro, L. (2010). THE FIRST KITCHEN. New Yorker, 86(37), 74-80. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

All pictures are credited towards Creative Commons


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