Home economists played an active role during the national crises
of the twentieth century. During the influenza pandemic that began
in l917, they served as hospital dietitians and Red Cross nurses
and volunteers. As leaders in nutrition research, they designed
programs for the conservation and rationing of various commodities
during World War I. The Cornell "farmerettes," a division of the
national Women's Land Army, included both graduates and undergraduates
of home economics who replaced farm help while men went off to war.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, home economists took on
increasingly important roles. Funded by the Temporary Emergency
Relief Administration, they educated thousands of impoverished families
about ways to maintain proper nutrition and make decent clothing
with very little money. This advice greatly enhanced home economists'
reputation as advocates for American children and families. During
World War II, home economists pledged themselves to the idea that
"a well fed America will be a strong America." They planted victory
gardens to help ensure an adequate supply of food and wrote widely
about how to maintain nutrition in a time of rationing and scarcity.
Home economists built a substantial national reputation through
their efforts in these crises.
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