From: State Defense Council, Subject files, 1940-1946, Series 419
Maintaining an adequate food supply, both on the homefront and for troops serving overseas, was a critical component of U.S. military strategy during World War II. As the war intensified, U.S. military personal required a greater share of commercially produced food. This meant that citizens on the homefront had less access to mass-produced foods like canned fruits, vegetables, meats, and seafood.
In order to make up for the deficit on the homefront, the War Food Administration encouraged citizens to plant “Victory Gardens.” Victory gardens ranged from small plots in suburban neighborhoods, to large community efforts. Victory gardeners primarily grew vegetables and fruits for home consumption. Participants also learned how to can fruits and vegetables for later use, and to properly care for the soil to ensure multiple planting cycles.
War Food Administration
Washington, 25, D.C.
The 1944 Victory Garden Program
Inter-Department Victory Garden Committee
H.V. Hochbaum, Chairman
Last year, 20 million Victory gardeners on our farms and in our cities, towns, and suburbs produced some 8 million tons of food. This is enough food to fill 150,000 freight cards, or 800 Liberty ships loaded with 10,000 tons each. It is 40 percent of the total fresh vegetable production in the United States.
“Much credit,” said President Roosevelt in his message to Congress, November 7, on our food program, “is due to the patriotic man and woman who spent so much time and energy in planting the 20 million Victory Gardens in the United States and helped to meet the food requirements.”
Vegetables Fresh and Canned
Besides furnishing fresh vegetables during the growing season, Victory Gardens also provided food for canning, drying, brimming, storing, and freezing. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 75 percent of the people canned an average of 165 jars or cans of food, or a total of 4,100,000,000 cans or jars for the country.
Another tribute to the work of our Victory gardeners was paid recently by Col. J.N. Gage, Executive Officer of the Chicago Quartermaster Depot, when he said:
“We have the longest line of communications ever attempted for the largest Army in the history of our Nation. This necessitates approximately 24 million meals daily which are so planned as to give maximum satisfaction of taste as well as nutritional qualities which produce energy and protect each soldier from falling prey to the ravages of deficiency diseases. This had all been made possible by the long range vision of those who have made food available to the armed forces. One of the most important contributions to this program has been Victory Gardens, for without the crops of these tireless patriotic urban truck farmers I feel that it would have been necessary to lend a sympathetic ear to the food demands of our civilian population, which could have upset the best laid plans for properly feeding the Army. We know that Victory gardening has been a national success. So successful that I am inclined to believe that Victory Gardens in connection with home canning have almost covered the entire deficit caused by withdrawals of processed food for war use.”
January 20, 1944