World War II left famine in its’ wake with dozens of nations and millions of people on the brink of starvation. These nations turned to the United States of America for help. President Harry S. Truman assembled a Famine Emergency Committee and appointed former President Herbert Hoover as the honorary chairman.
The committee did not waste any time in setting out to do what they could to help bring relief to these starving nations. In the committees’ first meeting on March 1, 1946, Hoover asserted, “Mr. President, the inevitable aftermath of war is famine, and with famine civilization itself is jeopardized. The last great reservoir from which starvation can be halted is in the United States.”
As advised by Hoover, Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture secured cooperation on the State and local levels.
In response the Bossier Parish Home Demonstration Agent, Lettie Van Landingham worked with school officials to get school children and their parents involved in saving food. She went to Benton and Plain Dealing where they collected and weighed the food waste. They gathered the students and teachers, and Van Landingham demonstrated how the bread in these meals could be saved. Administrators and others, including ex-servicemen, spoke on the need for food in foreign countries and the need to conserve so that American’s can help give to those in desperate need of food.
A few days later they weighed the food waste again to find that Benton students and teachers reduced their food waste from 14.5 to 9 pounds and Plain Dealing reduced theirs from 22 to 12 pounds. Van Landingham then shared their efforts in the Plain Dealing Progress on April 12, 1946, where she urged other schools in the Parish to do the same and to report their results to T. A. Tidwell, Chairman of the Bossier Parish Agricultural Conservation Committee.
On May 10, 1946, in the Plain Dealing Progress, the following article appeared with the headline “Local Plan For Saving Food Is Here Commended: State Worker Writes In Praise of Program Inaugurated In Parish.”
“Under date of April 26th, L. A. Mullin, of Baton Rouge, state director of the Field Service Branch of the Production and Marketing Administration, has directed the following letter to Mr. T. A. Tidwell, of Vanceville, chairman of the Bossier Parish ACC:”
“’Dear Mr. Tidwell: Under date of April 15th Mr. Coleman submitted to this office a newspaper clipping outlining the food conservation program being carried on in Benton and Plain Dealing. I am referring to the program under which the waste food was weighed before the children’s attention was called to the necessity of conserving food in order that it may be diverted to the starving people abroad. It is noted from this article that the food waste was reduced in Plain Dealing from 22 to 12 pounds.’”
“’I think this is a very unique idea and is a good example of what can be done when an effort is made. We have taken the liberty of submitting this idea to our Washington office as being one of the most outstanding articles that developed in connection with this program.’”
“’Please extend my sincere appreciation to the person responsible for this particular program as I believe it is a very effective way of having school children realize what can be done.’”
To learn more about the history of Bossier Parish during and after World War II visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.
By: Amy Robertson