I recently had a French secretaire in for restoration. The roll top was detached and stuck into position.  This was freed up and behind it I found a number of letters, one dated 1942, together with some old black and white photos and some French WW2 ration papers. Know as Carte Invididualle d’Alimentation I found some information on the web regarding the reasons for the issue.

Carte Individuelle d'Allimenation



With the extension of hostilities, all belligerents and even all neutral powers were obliged to implement restrictions on the consumption of certain consumer goods of primary necessity.
(p.8) The same obligation forces herself upon us.

After more than three years of war, the resources can no longer be as abundant as in the time of peace; those which remain are certainly lower in comparison with demand than in years which will follow the cessation of the war.
Can it be concluded, under these conditions, that the liberty entirely to buy and consume, is to be left to everybody, without any regulation than his phantasy?

Before the next harvest, all the resources will be exhausted, a ‘transition’ will be impossible and one will have, for several months, for the majority of the public, a period of true famine.
On the other hand, certain egotistical consumers, who do not want to understand their obligation, strive to buy from anybody at any price all the consumer goods which are susceptible to conservation. The prices of these merchandises rise into hitherto unknown proportions, and all the burden is placed on those who can not acquire them day by day.

(p.9) A similar situation does not hesitate to have as a consequence most grievious troubles, to the great satisfaction of the enemy.

To finally evade these dangers, it is mandatory that every citizen restrains himself to the necessary degree and that the State establishes equality in regard to these restrictions.

The French people is ordered, at home as well as at the front, to courageously accept the unavoidable sacrifices, yet it wants equal support of all the world.

The introduction of the Individual Nutrition Card and of Ration Coupons respond to this concept of equality and justice: workers shall receive favorably what is appropriate for their better protection; wealthy or well-to-do families shall scrupulously submit to the rule that a person does not have the right to increase his proper ration at the expense of his neighbour