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Food and Rationing

Children’s Rations

‘We used no to have a lot of meat and this day we had a whole plateful of meat but it was horrible and it wis snook, it wis whale meat. Oh it wis dreadful, na’en o’ us ate it. It wis more oily than fishy.’  



Rations were the fairest way to ensure people had enough to eat, and many poorer families had the healthiest diet they ever had. Children benefited greatly from this. For example, the number of children in Scotland who died before they reached 1 year of age fell by 27 per cent between 1939 and 1945. In Glasgow, the average height of 13 year olds increased by almost 2 inches (5 cm) by the end of the war.

Living on Rations

Children received special rations of milk, cod liver oil and fruit juice. Can you think why this was?


‘Bananas and oranges you could only get at a greengrocer. And you could only get them if you had a green ration book which you had if you’d a child.’



Nothing was wasted; people ate pigs' brains, cows udders, carrot marmalade and calf’s feet pie. Kitchen scraps were collected for pig bins to be turned into animal feed.

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However, despite all these advantages, people grew tired of living on rations:


‘Potatoes and milk, potatoes and margarine, dried eggs.’



‘They used to put margarine in a butter wrapper so that I would eat it and I used to say ‘There’s something awfi funny about this butter’ but you didn’t have any brands of anything, you had national margarine, you had national cheese which tasted like national soap.’

There was always the black market where people could acquire the occasional luxury item of food or sometimes quite basic foods:


‘The shops were very good, they got in all the contraband and they gave it to us. There were big queues to wait to get fruit on a Sunday morning and sweets and that.’

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