How the Negro Can Help Make Food Win the War


How the Negro Can Help Make Food Win the War


US Food Administration




1918 April


Pamphlet produced by the United States Food Administration urging people to eat cornmeal in place of wheat and beans, fish, and poultry in place of meat.


National Archives and Records Administration 130/68/3/00 box #3 entry #5 "Negroes" folder


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library






United States Food Administration
Negro Press Section - - - Educational Division

How the Negro Can Help Make Food Win the War

We can not remain a free people -- we do not deserve to be free -- unless in all things we stand by our Government together with all free people who are fighting to make the world safe for democracy

April, 1918

Government Printing Office


In a little country, there lived, 2,400 years ago, a peaceable people. These people had been living as tribes, but the spirit of brotherly love was growing, and so they were learning to live in towns, villages, or cities. It was in this country where the idea of the freedom of man first began to develop. It was here that democracy, or the government of the people, by the people, and for the people was born.

The liberty-loving people of this little country in times of peace were as separate peoples, having all the antagonisms, hatreds, and jealousies of the separate cities, but when an army from a great kingdom was sent against them, they were one in the defense of their homes against the invader who wished to rule them as his subjects.

My friends, ancient Greece had the first opportunity of making the ancient world safe for democracy. The idea of democracy then was in its infancy, and was found only in cities. Now democracy has grown to embrace nations, as we find democracy in the United States, France, and other lands. The people of ancient Greece made every sacrifice which it is possible for a people to make to protect the little bit of democracy which they had at that time, so that it might grow, and our present world powers are under obligation to the people of ancient Greece for protecting democracy that it might grow to what it is to-day. Man has been making and is still trying to make democracy better and better, stronger and stronger.


Germany, while enjoying all the confidence and good will of the peoples of the earth, has been using all its scientific knowledge to find a way and to be prepared that it might rule the nations of the earth. Germany has tried to make her task of conquest easy by every way she can and especially by breaking whatever bonds of union there are in a nation. For instance, in this country the German Government has created with more or less success a bad feeling between the different classes of people by lies well told. The stories which you heard last year that our Government was going to take your canned fruit or your money from the banks are evidences of this. These statements were circulated that you might lose confidence in your country. We may quarrel among ourselves, but like the case of the peacemaker who takes part in the quarrel between husband and wife, we will both jump on the third party, and so those who tried to make the Negro disloyal found that the Negro could not be persuaded to do anything against his country. The whole civilized world, the small nations and the big nations, have put aside all their differences and have united with but one thought and purpose--to make the world safe for democracy.

The German Government believes that all people should be governed according to laws made by man and that the Germans are the people to make these laws. The nations fighting Germany believe that people should be governed by laws of right and justice--the laws of God and of men of high ideals. This is a world religious war, to settle for all time whether man shall be governed by the law that might is right or by the law of justice, freedom, and equality.

Does the Kaiser believe in our God? No. If the Kaiser believed in God he would not destroy the large churches of Europe, the first thing at which the Germans aim their big guns. Can the Kaiser love God and at the same time murder defenseless men, women, and children, or seek by lies to make one class of people hate another? Can the Kaiser associate with and be on friendly terms with a nation like the Turks, who have killed Christians by the thousands, and still love God?

No; the Kaiser's god is not our God of perfect love, justice, and perfect goodness. A nation that will go back on its solemn oath or treaty has not only broken one of God's commandments, but has deservedly lost the confidence of other nations. It is the duty of law-abiding citizens to combine and make their towns and country free from the lawless; likewise it is the duty of the civilized world to combine to make the world safe from a lawless nation, so that the world will be safe for nations which wish to govern themselves, or to make the world safe for democracy. Shall the world be governed by Germany, or shall all nations be free to improve their governments, as they have been doing now for over 3,000 years?


The civilized nations, with the United States, have come forward and have pledged all they have to save their people from being made the slaves of the German Government. Some of these nations have been destroyed and their people are being starved; others have found that what they took once to be a friend is now a foe. Not a nation has complained at the sacrifice it made. Each person in the nation stands behind his Government and does not complain. Many of you have known or heard something of slavery, but bad as slavery was in this country, it was not half so terrible and horrible as the slavery of the millions of the conquered people of Europe who to-day are being subdued by starvation.

You can not all be soldiers and fight for the cause of humanity or the freedom of the world, but there is one thing that you all can do, and that is so to eat that food will win the war. In this free country your duty to your Government is never a hardship. The young men in the trenches have that consecrated look on their faces, because it is a fine thing to be an American soldier, and they know that he who gives his life for humanity shall receive it again in dying for a righteous cause. All Americans have just one purpose now in life, and that is to free this earth from a Government like that of Germany, for so long as the present German Government exists no nation is safe. So, when the United States pledges all that it holds dear to win this war, you can be sure the German Government will be conquered, that liberty and freedom shall be safe not only in the United States, but in all lands.


When Germany started this war and began her march through Belgium, that little nation knew that it could not keep Germany out. It is to bleeding Belgium that a grateful world will always bow its head in honor, because Belgium sacrificed everything freely and willingly, trying to do the impossible, that other nations might get ready to fight for democracy. Think of the price Belgium has paid, and still she does not complain. With a devout heart the Belgians are without a home on earth, they live enshrined in the hearts of men. This is what bleeding Belgium did, that the world shall be safe for democracy.

Look at heroic France, on whose soil the war is being fought and all of whose sons are in the trenches, except a few in shops and factories. The men of France do not wait for drafts, or go before exemption boards; they take up their rifles and go to the trenches. Almost every home in France has lost a dear one. The women of the world look to France's beautiful women for the fashions and the French women have set the fashion in heroic sacrifice. The women of France do all the agricultural work of France, even hitching themselves to plows! Any woman who objects to eating corn bread instead of wheat bread in these war times should be reminded of what the women of France have done and are doing for us all.

France met the hordes of Germany on the fields of France and held them in check until dogged England could come and help. The women of England are doing or learning to do all the work done by men in the trades, in the railway service, and in agricultural pursuits, thus making it possible for the men to take their places in the trenches that they might fight to protect civilization. Any man in England who is able to be a soldier or who is not doing all he can to help win the war is treated as an outcast by the women of England.

The United States, realizing that the freedom and liberty of this country would not be safe with the German Government as it now is, put aside its tasks of peace and is helping to fight for the world safety of democracy.


The United States must send food to feed our soldiers and our associates in the war. If not, they can not fight.

This is what the nations of the earth are doing and it is what is behind the signs "FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR." When you are asked to eat little or no wheat, meat, fats, and sugar, it is a very small sacrifice for you to make, but it is nothing as compared to the sacrifices which the young man makes when his Government calls him from his pleasant home to the plain living in the camp that he may be prepared to offer his life to keep us at home free from the slavery of the German Government.

You who remain at home are not asked to go hungry; far from it; but you are asked to eat corn meal and other substitutes instead of wheat; to eat plenty of beans, fish, game, and birds, instead of beef and pork. We are also urged to use more sweet vegetables, sweet fruits, and long sweetening, and to use less sugar. This is no hardship at all when compared to what our soldiers have to face when they cross the ocean to fight in the trenches, or to what the old and infirm, the women and children behind the lines are bearing.

Remember, we are saving for those people behind the lines just as much as for the boys who have taken up arms. We must keep those old men, those women, those girls and boys from feeling the pinch of hunger. Not only must we do this as an act of humanity, of love, and as a duty; we must do it if we expect the men in the trenches to maintain their fight. No matter how well they were fed, their moral strength would be weakened if they knew that the dear ones behind them were in want and suffering. Unless we can maintain the food stores of those allied peoples, their men can not maintain the strength of their fight against our common foe. If our food exports fail, the civilian populace of our war associates will suffer deprivation--and the war must be lost.

When you hear news of your son, brother, or sweetheart being killed, tears will not atone for your neglect; your guilty and aching hearts will condemn you for not doing all you could to bring victory to our cause. Yes, food will win the war, and these young men in the trenches are doing their bit, yes, their utmost, to defend you and the world. They expect that you at home will do your duty to make the world safe for these young folks.

There are two classes of people in this country--loyal and disloyal--friend and foe. He who fails to do all he can do to help win this war is not for us but against us, and should be treated as an enemy. This war is being fought in a righteous cause. We fight and die that the nations may make their laws in harmony with the Divine laws and in harmony with all things opposed to the things a God-loving people hold dear. Man can only be free and happy in a country governed by laws made in accordance with the laws of God.

It is important that at the table you do your bit, but of far greater importance than he who eats is he who produces the food that we may place it on the table. The one great cry now is for men and women everywhere to help make FOOD WIN THE WAR. By making food win the war you render a sacred service and you make an offering to Him who rules the world, because this war is being fought in the interest of peace and happiness for all nations.


Graduating or commencement time should be gay, happy, and hopeful, full of music and laughter; but lest we forget that we have a victory to win that the world shall be free, we come at this time to draw aside the curtain that the children may get a glimpse of what is behind the sign, "FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR."

The closing of the school is the beginning of life's struggles for the graduates, when they commence their life work in the world. To the young the world is smiling, happy, and they see only the bright side of life. We older ones have lived long enough to know the world as it is. What of the world to-day?

These are times of blood and tears, and the United States and the civilized world have pledged their all that these young people may live and be free to make the world better. My dear young friends, do not be discouraged because of the dark clouds in the sky of the world's civilization, for the sun is shining and will shine again after we shall have rolled the cloulds away. Children, you need not stop building your air castles or dreaming dreams of the future; but for us older folks, we have but one supreme duty at this time to perform, and that is to win the war. Children, do not be discouraged or frightened by the bugaboo nation. The strong nations are fighting to protect the weak, to make the world safe for democracy. We will protect you, our children, whose future will be in the hands of the men of to-morrow, and the men of to-morrow are the children of to-day.

You are being told to select one food instead of another--that is to use corn meal instead of wheat; to eat beans, fish, poultry, and eggs instead of meat, and to use less fats and sugar. Each food to be used in the place of wheat, meats, fats, and sugar is selected for the good it will do your body--to keep you well and give you strength to work. Some foods will give more strength for the body than others. In selecting foods you must do so according to the work you do--one kind of food for inside work and another for outside work; one food for easy work and another for hard work. In the same way you chose your school because you had a purpose in the world, and you have prepared yourselves for service to yourselves and to the world. It was with good sense that your parents or guardians selected a school and studies which are the foundations for all other work. That school which makes it possible for you to be sure of making a living is of first importance, and then, on this and with it, build such an education as will make you able to be of service to your country as an American citizen. Let your hands be your servant and your brain be your master. If your school has made it possible for you to make a living and has placed in your soul the duty of a citizen; and if you can see in any service, no matter how menial that service may be, if it will help to make your country and the world better, then you are one of those individuals on whom the success of the world depends.

My dear young folks, we want you to dream and work, but we older folks realize that we can not have a free nation without sacrifices of all kinds, from using cornmeal instead of wheat, and the using of fish, poultry, and eggs instead of meat; to the young men who give their lives in the trenches.

God has a hand in the affairs of men and He has given us a large opportunity to help in the winning of the war. Labor on the farm will help to make FOOD WIN THE WAR, and your service in the kitchen can be patriotic. You can so cook that food will win the war, and to those at the table, they can do much by eating so that food will win the war. You can handle food in such a way that you will be serving God by defeating those who place the law of man above the divine laws and those whose hands are red with the blood of Christians.


Now, my final word to you is that you make food win the war by eating the proper kind of food, so that you will have your health and be able to do your work. We mean that you are not to be hungry, for we have a victory to win, and hungry men can not win victories. Do not eat any wheat until the new wheat comes in. The wheat is needed to help win the war. Eat plenty of fish, vegetables, and fruits. Save all of the things most needed by our fighting men and those who are supporting them across the sea.

We have a sweet tooth, all of us, and so, my friends, do not use any more sugar than is necessary, but rather use as little as possible, using more sweet fruits, sweet vegetables, and long sweetening, so that the sugar which our soldiers need can be sent to them. In cooking, the corn sirup can be used, and so as we do without sugar, which is a food, we are helping to win the war. We are poor, it is true, yet at the same time we waste food. My friends, he who wastes food, which will win the war, is just as much an enemy to his country as are the Germans in the trenches.

If I had the time I would show you how the use of more wheat, meat, fats, and sugar than you need is causing our soldiers to lose their lives. It is almost equal to murder for us not to make food win the war. We are proud to be American citizens, and we live up to the American ideals, which have always been as high as the blue sky. The nation, under Washington, the Father of His Country, made it possible for us as a nation to be free. Again, the nation gave up its best blood that all men in that nation should be free, and made it possible (to use the words of the lamented President Lincoln) "that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Again, under President Wilson, we are in the ranks and have told the world that we fight that the nations of the earth shall have freedom or that the world shall be safe for democracy. Let us stand and take this oath with our President:

"On the anniversary of America's entry into the great war I affirm my undivided loyalty to the cause for which we fight; the cause of justice and human liberty. I gladly lay upon the altar of the nation's need my material possessions, my bodily strength and my mental powers, to serve and to save America and those ideals for which it stands, and to keep the Stars and Stripes on high with honor. I pledge my hand, my heart, and my life."

Let us sing "AMERICA."


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Original Format





US Food Administration, “How the Negro Can Help Make Food Win the War,” 1918 April , TI00245, Race and Segregation Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.