Belgian Relief

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BELGIAN RELIEF was organized by Herbert Hoover during the Allied blockade of the European mainland in World War I. The Commission for Relief in Belgium (CRB) was created in October 1914 by a group of Americans to supply German-occupied Belgium with direly needed food. Heading the CRB, Hoover was able to persuade the Allies that the food would not be used by the German army, and he convinced the Germans to allow the Belgians to distribute the food locally. From 1915 until the United States entered the war in 1917, Hoover collected almost one billion dollars in voluntary donations and government grants to finance the operations. Despite many setbacks, with the government's approval the Commission members were able to pass more than 5.1 million tons of provisions and supplies into Belgium and into northern France through neutral channels. Operating factories, mills, ships, and railroads, the CRB helped to feed eleven million people. Hoover was particularly proud that he was able to provide millions of children in that region with an adequate diet, and that the administration of the relief effort, costing less than one-half of one percent of the total amount he had collected, was most efficient. Highly praised, Hoover became administrator of the American wartime Food Administration until 1920.


Hoover, Herbert. Memoirs of Herbert Hoover. Vol I. New York: Macmillan, 1951.

Nash, George H. The Life of Herbert Hoover. New York: Norton, 1983.


See alsoWorld War I, U.S. Relief in .