Sainsbury's and Rationing
Preparations for food rationing during the Second World War began in November 1936 when the Food Department was set up as part of the Board of Trade. Registration began in November 1939 and food ration books were issued to every man, women and child for the preparation of rationing in January 1940.
The Ministry of Food was responsible for ensuring the fair distribution of foodstuffs at reasonable prices and local food offices were set up to license food dealers, distribute ration books and ensure government orders were carried out.
Sainsbury's set up its own rationing department at its London head office, with the task of establishing a communications network to ensure that the Ministry of Food's regulations were correctly interpreted. Important changes in the system were communicated through a system of 'contact clerks' who telephoned selected branches as soon as they had been notified by the Ministry of a change in the regulations. These branches were then responsible for passing the messages on to a further group of shops in their area.
So efficient was the 'contact clerk' system that some local food officers believed that Sainsbury's had prior knowledge of the regulations issued by the Ministry. Many local food offices discovered that it was quicker to telephone Sainsbury's rationing office to obtain information on the regulations, than go through their own complicated official channels.
|Copyright J Sainsbury plc, 2001.||On to registration.|