After war was declared in September 1939, the British government
had to cut down on the amount of food it brought in from abroad
as German submarines started bombing British supply ships. There
was a worry that this would lead to shortages of food supplies in
the shops and very high prices for what was left, making it very
difficult for a lot of people to get enough to eat.
Rationing of food was introduced in January 1940. Everybody was
issued with a ration book. This contained coupons that had to be
handed in to the shops every time rationed food was bought. As well
as the basic ration everybody had 16 coupons each month that they
could spend on what they wished.
This made sure that everyone was able to buy and eat the basic
food necessary to keep them fit and healthy. Bacon, butter and sugar
were among the first things to be rationed. Some foods such as potatoes,
fruit and fish were not rationed. People were able to buy these
things, provided they could afford them and there were supplies
in the shops.
The government tried to encourage people to grow their own food
at home. The 'Dig for Victory' campaign, started in October 1939,
was one of the most famous of the war. It encouraged people to use
every spare piece of land, including their gardens, to grow vegetables.