Raw food can be produced by Hunters, Hothouses, the Fishing Village Outpost, or found at certain scouting locations (first available from the Crash Site). Additionally, you can create raw food using Alternative food source (Law). Food rations are produced from raw food by the Cookhouse or found at certain scouting locations (first available from the Sturdy Shelter).
The food mechanic has four statuses associated with it: full, hungry, starving, and dead. If they don't eat, citizens transition from full to hungry, from hungry to starving, and from starving to dead. How long citizens remain in each state depends on your "People's Needs" difficulty setting:
When people eat food, their state returns to full, and the process repeats.
People will, regardless of your difficulty, attempt to eat once per day. The game checks if a person has not eaten within the past 24 hours. If they have, they do not eat, and will go about normal activities. If they have not eaten, they will attempt to eat. Even on easier difficulties, where eating can keep a person full for days, they will still try to eat once per 24 hours.
Frostpunk's citizens have a priority list, and eating isn't very high on that list unless they are starving. Priorities are, from highest to lowest: build Streets, build Buildings, dismantle buildings, working, go to eat, and going to work. If a person is trying to eat, but there is a task of higher priority on their to-do list, they will forgo eating and instead go to complete the task you've set for them. Work is mentioned twice, because its priority changes depending on whether someone is eating on the way to or from work, or whether they were ripped from a different task.
With these priorities in mind, if you want to force people to eat during off-hours, you can delete any streets you are making and pause any build/dismantle tasks. This will cause any hungry citizens or any citizens who haven't eaten in 24 hours to go and eat. If you want to force people to eat during work hours, you can individually dismiss them from their workplace; however, you will also need to pause/delete any higher priority tasks, else they will go do those instead.
People eat Food Rations at the Cookhouse, regardless of whether it is turned on or off, heated, or even connected to roads, so long as you have Food Rations available in your inventory. People must walk to and from the cookhouse to eat. Furthermore, Cookhouses have an internal queue that limits how many citizens they can serve. This queue holds approximately 250 people at one time, per Cookhouse. This means that if you have too many people queuing for food at the same time, they may forgo eating even if you have enough food to serve them. If you do not have a cookhouse, people will wait to become starving and then eat from the Stockpiles instead. People do not eat at any other building, including Field Kitchens or Resource Depots. Note that starving citizens eat two food rations to become full, or two Raw Food if food rations are not available.
Discontent and Hope
Hungry and starving citizens will raise discontent. Citizens who die from starvation will lower hope.
There are multiple laws that have a direct association with the food mechanic. They are listed below. Additionally, most laws have an indirect association (i.e. Organic Fertiliser (Law) increases the efficiency of hothouses, Child Labour - Safe Jobs (Law) allows you to employ children at Cookhouses, Field Kitchens (Law) will deplete your Food Rations but not feed citizens, etc) but are not listed here.
Soup allows you the Soup recipe that will convert 2 raw food into 5 rations, but will increase discontent.
Food Additives allows you the Sawdust recipe that will convert 2 raw food into 6 food rations, but may cause people to fall ill.
Emergency Shift allows you to increase the production of Hothouses, Industrial Hothouses, and Cookhouses, at the cost of increased discontent. Emergency Shifts used in any Building will prevent workers at that building from eating during their shift, increasing their chance to transition to a worse status.
Extended Shift allows you to increase the production of Hothouses, Industrial Hothouses, and Cookhouses, at the cost of increased discontent. Extended Shifts used in any Building will prevent workers at that building from eating during their shift, increasing their chance to transition to a worse status.
There are a few events associated with the food mechanic:
- If you have enough hungry people, you will eventually trigger a Food Problem or a Food Riot.
- If you have enough starving people, you will eventually trigger Alternative Food Source (Event).