By Heather Smith, Senior Strategic Initiatives Manager for United Supermarkets and United Way Board Member
At United Supermarkets, service is our calling. As a community partner, we believe in serving in ways that are relevant to the community. After realizing the scope of human trafficking in our trade areas, we wanted to do our part to make a difference.
In November 2019, we became a shipping partner of Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) and have since trained our entire fleet of drivers at Llano Logistics, our Lubbock-based distribution center. By the nature of their work in the trucking industry, it is all too often team members find themselves in the transit path of this growing epidemic. To put it in perspective, Llano drivers will travel approximately 5 million miles this year, covering a territory spread from Albuquerque to the Dallas Metroplex. Through this program we have educated our drivers on the TAT materials so that they could recognize the signs of human trafficking, and if they saw it, they knew the appropriate action to take.
Cash Eagan, general manager for Llano Logistics, said the program was extremely well received. Many drivers were noted as saying that in hindsight, they had probably witnessed a trafficking transaction, but lacked the knowledge at the time to do anything about it.
In light of National Sex Trafficking Prevention Month this January, we gathered our drivers for a follow-up session where they learned more about widespread human trafficking across the United States as well as here in our own backyard. Representatives from the Lubbock Area United Way and its Community Partner Voice of Hope gave testimony about the different types of sex and labor trafficking, the impact it has on the victims they serve, and what community members can do to bring awareness to this issue.
Everyone who works at a banner of The United Family knows our mission of Ultimate Service, Superior Performance, and Positive Impact. We are committed to making a difference to our guests, our neighbors, and the communities we are blessed to serve. Through the TAT driver training program, we aim to do our part and we will continue to look for other ways to join the anti-human trafficking forces.