During World War Two food was rationed as a result of the U-boat campaign in the Atlantic. Rationing for those living within the UK was divided into three different categories. The main bulk would have been classed as adults but pregnant women were given extra – primarily milk – as were children. The Ministry of Food (MoF) produced ‘War Cookery Leaflet Number 10’ entitled “Your Children’s Food in Wartime”.
The leaflet associated happy children with a good diet. It put the emphasis on parents’ providing their children with a good diet that would end with their children developing a sound and healthy constitution and “active bodies”.
“Your Children’s Food in Wartime” had five sections to it on food and what impact those foodstuffs had on a child’s body.
Section One was about milk. This, the MoF informed parents’, built strong bones, muscles and teeth. Parents’ were urged to make sure that their child got all the “priority” milk that was available. It also advised parents’ to put milk in stews and soups.
Section 2 was about cheese. The MoF recommended that all children over the age of two should be given the full ration.
Section 3 was about eggs. The MoF advised parents “Give each child under six years the full ration of eggs provided under the Priority scheme. If using them in cooking, see that the children and only the children, are served with the dishes made from their allowance of eggs.” For those over the age of six, the MoF recommended eggs be substituted with liver when obtainable or any oily fish.
Section 4 was about meat. The MoF stated that all children over two years should have their full ration of meat. The MoF was very specific that children alone should get a child’s meat allowance – “Do not give the man or other grown-up members of the household the children’s meat. They are not growing up.”
Section 5 was about fish. Parents were encouraged to serve fish (salted cod or smoked cod) once or twice a week.
The MoF also gave plenty of tips on the serving of vegetables and salads for children in an effort to maintain their ability to fight off illnesses. It recommended that green vegetables were served once a day and green salads when they were in season. The MoF also recommended “raw turnip or swede, either finely grated or as a juice”.
The MoF also recommended food for “ceaseless activity”: bread, potatoes and oatmeal or rolled oats.
To support parents, the MoF also offered advice on teaching “good food habits”. It advised parents that older children enjoyed colour in their food and an attractive presentation. Parents were advised not to force children into eating a specific food if they did not like it. It also stated that the example parents set to their children would be very important.
The leaflet ended with the MoF advising parents about the foods they should restrict a child from having: sweets, sugar, cakes, biscuits, fried food and strong tea and coffee.