Shortly after the United States entered into World War II, the country realized the importance of conserving natural resources. With restrictions on imports in effect and a large army to feed and supply, the U.S. government quickly took action to limit the consumption of food and resources. On January 30, 1942 — less than two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor — the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the authority to set price limits and ration food. By March of 1943, products like gasoline, sugar, coffee, meats, cheeses, canned meats / fish, canned milk, and many other commodities were rationed by the federal government.

The National Home Front Project has recorded memories from both children and adults as they recall how rationing worked, how rationing affected their lives, and how they and their families coped throughout such shortages.

Click on the photos below to read and hear their stories through audio clips and transcripts. Check back as we continue adding more from our collection of nearly oral history interviews from contributors nationwide. Please help us ensure stories are preserved by contacting us if you, a family member, or a friend have stories to share.