Focus Questions

Have you heard of the Ministry of Food?  Do you know what food rationing means?

Describe some of the things you can see.  What do you notice most?

How do you think this object was used?

Have you noticed...The date on the book? What does this date tell you? Click to reveal answer

The date is 24th October 1918. Rationing was started In January 1918 and even though the war ended in November 1918 rationing continued until 1920. People often grew their own food in their gardens to add to what they could buy.

Explore themes

Ration book issued by the Ministry of Food 1918

Ration Book

Ration Book

This Ministry of Food National Ration Book was issued in 1918.

Ration book issued by the Ministry of Food 1918
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The Object

Object name: Ration Book 
Date: 24th October 1918
Catalogue Number: 1992.33.16
Materials: Paper
Size: 11cm in Height and 12cm in Width
Created by: Ministry of Food
On display at the Jewish Museum? Yes

  • This ration book shows us what life was like at home during the First World War.
  • Look closely at the name of the holder of this ration book.  The name is Jacob Rudolph Muranski. Jacob was Jewish and lived in Leeds when his ration book was issued in 1918.
  • Look at the left hand side of the ration book to see where the staples are.  There are many pages in this ration book which contained vouchers and stamps to use to buy the food you were rationed.
  • Instruction number 3 tells people to register their ration book with a butcher, baker, and grocer.  This meant that everyone was registered to collect their rations and it also meant that the government knew how much food to deliver to each baker, butcher and grocer so there was enough for the registered people to collect food from the shops.

The Story

Food rationing

Rationing only started in 1918; the last year of the war.  In 1917 there was a shortage of food and many people were suffering from malnutrition.  The government decided to ration food to make sure it was fair to all.  The government could only create one set of rules so everyone received the same ration book even if you did not eat some of the items.

A ration book had vouchers or stamps inside that could be exchanged for the food printed on the voucher itself.

The Jewish community felt the effect of rationing during the First World War as there are already many rules and restrictions when keeping Kosher.  More restrictions on types of food and where the food came from meant that it was difficult for Jewish people keeping Kosher.  This was particularly true when supplies of beef and mutton started to run short.  The government decided to advise people to replace them with bacon and hare which are not kosher and could not be eaten by Jewish people keeping the laws of Kashrut.

Another problem for the Jewish community was the government’s introduction of meatless Thursdays.  On Thursday butchers were told to close down to encourage families not to eat meat on that day.  This made Shabbat preparations very difficult for Jewish families as traditionally they had always bought their meat on Thursday before Shabbat started on Friday evenings.  This was most difficult in the winter months when Jewish butchers closed at around 3pm on a Friday; this meant Jewish people had a very small opportunity to buy their meat before Shabbat started.

Digital Takeaway

Download this PDF about food rationing.