Examining the Programs of the US Food Administration

Part of the "The Presence of Poppies and the Possibilities of Potatoes" Collection


Students will learn about the US Food Administration during World War I and its application to the present day.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • SS5H8  The student will describe U.S. involvement in World War I and post-World War I America
    • a. Explain how German attacks on U.S. shipping during the war in Europe (1914 – 1917) ultimately led the U.S. to join the fight against Germany; include the sinking of the Lusitania and concerns over safety of U.S. ships, U.S. contributions to the war, and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which point(s).
  • HE5.2. Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.


  1. Read aloud “Food Administration During World War I” which explains how the Wilson administration implemented many programs that affected the lives of Americans through the creation of the U.S. Food Administration. The programs called for patriotism and sacrifices that would increase production and decrease food consumption (programs such as Wheatless Mondays, Meatless Tuesdays, Porkless Saturdays, Victory Gardens). View the additional whole group materials listed above to extend understanding of the communication of these efforts.
  2. Divide students into three groups and distribute a set of printed primary sources about either potatoes, wheat, or sugar to each group. Ask students to use evidence from the text to identify the stated benefits for both personal health and for the good of the country and to think critically about other possible benefits and disadvantages of those making those same choices today.
  3. Share findings with the whole group to develop broad understanding of the varied initiatives of World War I times and to determine which may still be applicable today and why.