The first serious effect of the feed-Europe campaign to hit Pittsfield homes is about to descend on them in the form of a bread and pastry shortage. According to some predictions, that shortage may, if present government policies are continued, increase to such an extent that some bakers here will have to close completely.

The shortage stems, it was said, not from any actual lack of wheat, but from the government’s subsidy to farmers of 30 cents for every bushel sold the government for UNRRA’s use in famine areas. With this inducement for selling to the government, there is little left for millers.

Housewives, prone as they are to hoarding any product which is called scarce, won’t help the situation at all by rushing to bakeries to buy what they can, it was pointed out. To prevent this, some shops have instituted a voluntary rationing system, limiting sales to one loaf of bread per customer. Others think, if it becomes necessary, this will be the best preventive. But conservation in the home, one baker said, is the real solution — elimination of the waste of bread that takes place in every home. Suggestions that customers write their representatives to correct the situation were given.

Local bakers this morning had this to say of the situation: Cuts ranging from 25 to 50 percent in bread and pastry production here have already been made. One who has cut 30 percent said if it reaches 50 percent, he might as well close. Many mills have closed, and most bakers are working on flour reserves which they gathered in anticipation of the shortage. One baker was out of bread for five hours yesterday.

Bread and pastry makers are hit not only by the flour shortage but have been plagued by scarcities of fats and sugar as well. Those same shortages, it was pointed out, will help keep home baking unpopular, even though many housewives have on hand a supply of flour they bought when the shortage was first hinted at.

This Story in History is selected from the archives by Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.

Community News Editor / Librarian

Jeannie Maschino is community news editor and librarian for The Berkshire Eagle. She has worked for the newspaper in various capacities since 1982 and joined the newsroom in 1989.