Church World Service has announced plans to ship 10,000 metric tons of donated wheat to help offset a severe shortage of grain in Vietnam.
The $2 million shipment, set for February, will be the first food shipment sent directly from the United States to Vietnam since the war's end, according to Paul F. McCleary, executive director of the international development and relief arm of the National Council of Churches.
CWS must receive special permission for the shipment because of the U.S. trade embargo against Vietnam. McCleary said that because of the embargo, CWS could not count on U.S. government reimbursement of shipping costs as is done for most of its overseas food donations.
Funds for shipping and purchasing the wheat are expected to be raised in 31 churches holding membership in the NCC. Much of the wheat is expected to come from an appeal by CROP, the world community hunger agency of CWS. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting U.S. wheat surpluses of more than 1 billion bushels this year.
In Vietnam, the wheat will be milled for bread and noodles by the VIetnamese Committee for Friendship and Solidarity with the American People for distribution in schools and hospitals.
An estimated grain shortfall of nearly 1.2 million tons in Vietnam by the end of this year was attributed to land abandoned, defoliated and bombed during the war.
McCleary, who visited Vietnam last spring, said the embargo by the United States has aggravated the food shortage.