Children had to have good access to food during World War Two. The British government introduced food rationing to ensure that this happened and specific information regarding children and food was issued in a Ministry of Food pamphlet.
The Ministry of Food wanted parents and other adults to teach children good eating habits – and what food to avoid. Their advice came in six sections on the pamphlet:
1) Why is a child’s food so vitally important?
2) Foods that build bones, muscles and teeth
3) Foods for the general upkeep of the body and for the protection against illness
4) Food to provide energy for ceaseless activity
5) Teaching good food habits
6) Foods that should be restricted.
Each parent was advised to take full advantage of the government’s milk schemes. Each child was entitled to “priority milk” and the use of ‘National Household Skimmed Milk’ was encouraged.
Parents were also advised not to give to adults food rations that were meant to go to children – especially the meat ration. Great emphasis was put on fresh vegetables, oily fish (when available) and acceptable substitutes when certain food was unavailable. If oranges were difficult to acquire, blackcurrant syrup (for those under two years) and rosehip syrup (for those over two years) were suggested. Raw turnip was also suggested for maintaining a healthy body.
The Ministry of Food encouraged parents to introduce new foods slowly and to set a good example themselves with regards to eating what might have been seen to be unusual food.
Parents were actively discouraged from giving their children too much sugar, sweets, cakes and biscuits. Fried food was also not encouraged along with strong tea and coffee.