President FDR enacted the New Deal during the Great Depression. It was a series of sweeping social and economic reforms designed to get people back to work. It included farm subsidies, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) and the Social Security Act.
George and Lennie were migrant farm workers, as many men were in those days. Many families could not survive on their own land and could not find work in factories, so they traveled around areas like California. California was a heavily agricultural state then (and still is). While in modern times most migrant farm workers are immigrants from South America and other areas, in the 1930’s they often came from Oaklahoma and the rest of the “Dust Bowl” states where their farms were worthless.
The main characters in the book Of Mice and Men are directly impacted by the U.S. government programs and reforms of the 1930s collectively known as the New Deal. These programs were meant to relieve some of the burden of the Depression era by providing relief, recovery and reform.
Main characters George and Lennie found work as migrant farmers through one of the New Deal programs meant to provide relief to the poor and unemployed. The agency in the book that provided George and Lennie with their work cards was one of the agencies the government provided that sent migrant workers to locations where work could be found. Though the pay and assistance was meager, during the United States' Depression, it provided a way to survive.
Other programs of the New Deal were designed to help the economy further recover and to reform the financial institutions of the United States so that another Depression would not occur. Some of the programs provided during the New Deal are still in place today and include the Social Security System, Tennessee Valley Authority and the Federal Housing Authority.