Field slaves lived mostly on a diet of cornmeal, salt herring, and pork. They had two meals a day. There was breakfast at twelve and dinner much later. Solom Northrup, a slave from a Louisiana plantation said when describing his meals given to him by the planter: "All that is allowed them is corn and bacon which is given out in the corncrib and smoke-house every Sunday morning. Each one receives, as his weekly allowance, three and a half pounds of bacon, and corn enough to make a peck of a meal. That is all- no tea, coffee, sugar, and with the exception of a very scanty sprinkling now and then, no salt....."
Francis Henderson from Washington D.C. also said something similar. " Our allowance was given weekly- a peck of sifted cornmeal, a dozen and a half herrings, and two and a half pounds of pork. Some of the boys would eat this up in three days... I never sat down at a table to eat except for at harvest time, all the time I was a slave."
Sometimes, when they were desperate for food the slaves stole animals at a high risk of being caught and punished. They were also allowed to keep small gardens called 'truck patches' to provide a little bit more food. Most slaves went hungry because of their small rations. Some planters allowed the slaves a gun to shoot their own food. They also fished. House slaves were given the leftovers from the big house meals.
At Christmas, slaves were sometimes given a couple days to a week off. Some plantations provided extra rations. Some were even lucky enough to receive small valuables or amounts of money.