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

Throughout his career, Herbert Hoover visited Poland four times to organize food and medical relief. At that time, Hoover’s relief efforts were the largest Europe had ever seen.

As head of the American Relief Administration (ARA), during World War I, Hoover helped to feed more than 2 million Poles daily. Between 1914 and 1922, he helped to relieve the hunger of more than 200 million people daily. In Poland, alone, more than 1.5 million men, women, and children were fed 6 months after the ARA entered the country in 1918. Within the first six months of 1919, rail road cars coming from Gdansk carried food to other Polish cities in desperate need of aid.

Hoover walks with Polish children


In those few months, over 1.5 million children were fed. This number was increased to 2 million in less than a year.

During World War II, Hoover led the Commission for Polish Relief, which fed another few million people. In 1946, Hoover visited Poland again to assist in devising a food plan that would help sustain the Polish economy for the next 30 years. During his years of aid to the Poles, Herbert Hoover became a celebrated name in most households. In his years as head of ARA, Hoover and the American people raised 400 thousand tons of foodstuffs for Poland. The cost was estimated at $130 million.

Polish children waiting for food

The ARA helped supply food for almost 1.4 million children and clothe another 700 thousand. “For four years following the war, half a billion meals were fed to the hungry and starving of Poland.” (Hoover Institution). Below is a part of a chart that explains the daily diet of people during World War II.

Average Diet - January 1943

Adults: 975 calories/day

Chidren: 540 calories/day

Adults as well as children benefited from food relief

The following video comes from a 1928 campaign video entitled "Herbert Hoover: Master of Emergencies."

Click on the video to play

Back to the Map

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