The Great Humanitarian
Herbert Hoover's Food Relief Efforts
Belgium & France - Finland - Germany & Austria - Poland - Russia - Baltic States - Eastern Europe - Other Countries

When a blockade was placed on Germany during World War I, Hoover and the American Relief Administration, or the ARA, established a feeding program for children with the help of the Quakers. From the US alone, Germany received over 800 thousand tons of food. Distribution of the food took place in over 2 thousand Quaker kitchens throughout more than one thousand communities in Germany. In 1921, over one million children were fed per day.

This is a 1918 political cartoon depicting America's approach to food relief.



Considering Hoover’s experience with food relief, President Truman requested that he go to Germany and Austria on a fact-finding mission; he accepted. In the winter of 1947, he toured the Allied zones in Germany and found out that, due to lack of labor and failure of agriculture, the zones produced 40% less than they had produced before the war. He reported that, compared to the years before, the German economic situation worsened dramatically.

After World War II, the people of Austria were also suffering. Much of their pre-war food supplies had come from outside sources, and issues with soil and climate took a toll on the agricultural conditions. As a result, in 1945, Austria’s harvest was less than half of pre-war production.

Truman and Hoover discussing food relief

To aid Germany and Austria, Hoover devised a program. This program was created on the idea that a person needs at least 1,550 calories daily. The plan included the proposed idea that children and nursing mothers should be getting more fats and milk in their diet. Laborers would also be getting more calorie-laden food.

In April 1947, Herbert Hoover’s plan began to take shape in the form of school meal programs in the Allied zones. The plan called to feed more than 3 million children and teenagers. A total of 40 thousand tons of American food were made available for the project.
Letter from President Truman to Herbert Hoover



This illustration, done by an unknown child, depicts the aid given to the German and Austrian people.


The following clips are part of a 1928 campaign video titled "Herbert Hoover: Master of Emergencies". The left video is from Germany, while the right is Austria.

Click on the picture to view the film.

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Created by: Ross Byerly, Kim Nelson, Desiree Clark, Meredith Tinney, Keziah Low
Special thanks to Maureen Harding, Craig Wright, and the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum
Site launched: November 20, 2006
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