During World War II in Britain, the Ministry of Food encouraged the opening of workplace cafeterias and local community restaurants to help ensure that working men and women who could not travel home for their midday meal (the main meal of the day at that time) were adequately fed. The food provided did not come out of the individual customer’s ration allowance, which was an encouragement to patronage of the establishments.
The Border Watch (Mount Gambier, South Australia) of October 21, 1941 published some details of the meals at a colliery in Nottinghamshire.
THREE COURSES 10d.
English Miners are Living Well in War time.
Three-course meals for tenpence are now being served daily from 1 o'clock to half past six at Mansfield colliery in Nottinghamshire.
Here are three typical menus:-
Lentil soup; steak pie, cabbage, potatoes; rhubarb tart and custard.
Ox-tail soup; brown stew, carrots, potatoes; date pudding and custard.
Celery Soup; boiled pork, sage and onion sauce, cabbage and potatoes, jam sponge and custard.
The soup costs 2d, meat and two vegetables 6d, and pudding 2d.- In spite of the cheapness of the food it is hoped that, when fully developed, the scheme will pay for itself. The miners and their wives are so enthusiastic about it that it will probably be extended to other pits in the Bolsover group, of which the Mansfield colliery is one.
Cutlery, crockery, tables and cooking equipment are supplied with, the help of the Miners Welfare Commission, which has already sponsored pit head baths, recreation grounds and other amenities.
Three West Yorkshire pits have also got pit-head canteens, which are serving from 3500 to 4000 hot meals a day - breakfasts, dinners, teas and suppers. Plans are ready for feeding a further 10,000 workers.
Lord Woolton, the Minister of Food has appointed an expert with wide experience in organising industrial canteens to help, and what has now been begun as a war-time measure promises to take a permanent place in English colliery life.
Yesterday’s post included recipes for date pudding, which was a staple filling dessert of the time. Today I give you another classic of the era:
Sage and Onion Sauce
Chop fine an ounce of onion and half an ounce of green sage, put them into a stewpan with four spoonfuls of water, simmer for ten minutes. Put in one ounce of breadcrumbs, pepper and salt
to taste, mix well together, pour in a quarter of a pint of gravy, stir together and simmer a few minutes longer.
Sunday Times (Perth, WA) 28 December 1919.