Food Helps Win World War II (A 1915 Alum Story)


“Food will win the war and write the peace.” That was Claude R. Wickard’s motto while he served as head of the War Food Administration during World War II.

Photo of Claud R. Wickard, 12th Secretary of Agriculture, 1940-1945

Claud R. Wickard, 12th Secretary of Agriculture, 1940-1945

Wickard earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from Purdue in 1915. After graduation, Wickard employed what he learned at Purdue on his farm near Camden, Indiana. The result was phenomenal. His vastly improved crop and livestock yields earned him various awards, including Indiana’s Master Farmer in 1927.

Thanks to his first-hand experience using science to improve agriculture, he valued education and believed that science could increase food production and ultimately win the war. As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1940 to 1945, he developed programs that helped farmers increase production using some of same techniques he personally employed back home.

It made a difference.

The American heartland increased yields with fewer workers and was one of few agricultural areas in the world still in full production. American farmers staved off hunger in Europe, fueled the war effort and ultimately helped win the war.

— by Hannah Tucker (Purdue ’18)


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