ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Two major convenience store chains are teaming up to fight human trafficking, reports Kimt.com. Kum & Go and Casey’s General Stores Inc. are partnering with Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) in the initiative.
The convenience chains will train employees and place stickers in bathroom stalls—often the only place a victim of human trafficking is alone and safe enough to reach out for help—with phone numbers so victims seeking help can contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
“Kum & Go is committed to improving our neighborhoods, and this partnership with CSAT is our most recent effort,” said Tanner Krause, president, Kum & Go, West Des Moines, Iowa. “If we can help just one person as a result, everything we do is worth it.”
“Casey’s is always looking for ways to support and improve our communities” said Terry Handley, CEO, Casey’s General Stores, Ankeny, Iowa. “We recognize that we can play an important role in identifying and deterring human trafficking.”
Organizers say the idea of this partnership is to provide a collective neighborhood watch and safe haven at locations in small and midsize communities that are often open 24 hours a day. Currently, Kum & Go has nearly 400 locations throughout the Midwest, and Casey’s has more than 2,100 stores in the Midwest and South.
“Our hope is that an employee will trust their gut and make a phone call immediately after suspected traffickers and victims have left the store,” says Juliana Williams, program director of CSAT. “That call can save a life and stop traffickers from exploiting more victims.”
As reported in NACS Daily in October 2018, NACS has partnered with In Our Backyard for its CSAT program. Together, the groups will help raise awareness of the problem of human trafficking and share resources with the convenience store community to help address the problem.
CSAT provides awareness, education and life-saving materials through thousands of locations across the country. In addition to employee training on recognizing and safely reporting the signs of human trafficking, CSAT also provides Freedom Stickers that contain the National Human Trafficking Hotline number.
A September 2018 NACS Consumer Survey found that 49% of consumers—and 61% of millennials—say they are more likely to support companies that participate in community projects or donate to charitable causes. The same survey also found that 40% of all consumers say that stopping human trafficking is an issue that they would support.
“U.S. convenience stores serve 165 million customers a day in every community, and most of these businesses are open 24/7,” said Jeff Lenard, vice president of strategic industry initiatives, NACS. “Our industry is well equipped to share important messages in stores so that employees and customers can collectively create the equivalent of a neighborhood watch program in their communities. We are proud to work with CSAT on this important issue.”