Much of the food shipped to war-torn Belgium consisted of flour, sugar and grains, packed in cotton bags. Cotton was in great demand for the manufacture of German ammunition, however, so the CRB carefully distributed the emptied sacks to professional schools, sewing workrooms, convents, and individual artists.
Clothing, accessories, pillows, bags, and other functional items were created from these sacks. Others were embroidered over the mill logos, or original designs were embroidered, painted, or stenciled with messages of gratitude, symbols of Belgium such as the lion and Gallic cock, or American symbols such as the eagle and the flag.
The decorated flour sacks were distributed to shops and organizations in Belgium, England, and the United States to raise funds for food relief. Hundreds were sent in appreciation to the CRB and its director, Herbert Hoover.
The museum's collection of flour sacks includes about 350 embroidered pieces and 100 painted bags. For conservation reasons, new selections are rotated for display every six months.