America’s entry into World War II resulted in nationwide efforts to mobilize and equip the military in preparation for battle. Diversion of resources to the troops and Allies resulted in food shortages at home: processed and canned food was largely reserved for shipping overseas to the military and our Allies, transportation of fresh food was limited due to gasoline and tire rationing, and restrictions on imports limited the availability of products from abroad such as coffee and sugar. In 1942, the United States Office of Price Administration instituted food rationing to ensure the fair distribution of goods that were in short supply.
These ration books were issued to Otto and Lila Barringer of Carlinville. They contain the Barringers’ monthly allotment of ration points for items such as sugar, meat, cooking oil, and canned goods. Each rationed product cost a certain number of ration points as well as a certain amount of money. The round tokens functioned as “change” from the ration points given by grocery stores. When the ration stamps for the month were used up, no more of that food could be purchased. This encouraged American consumers to plan meals carefully, reduce waste, and plant victory gardens.