SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- To help empower California’s convenience industry as a leader in combatting human trafficking across the state, the California Independent Oil Marketers Association (CIOMA) is partnering with In Our Backyard through its flagship program, Convenience Stores Against Trafficking.
“With January being recognized as Human Trafficking Awareness Month, CIOMA could not be more proud of this partnership and the commitment to eradicate trafficking from our communities for good,” said Ryan Hanretty, executive director of CIOMA. “These small, family- and minority-owned businesses are engrained in their communities and truly care about their neighbors. Our members are ready to lead the fight against the heinous crime of human trafficking.”
With more than 11,000 storefronts along California’s roads and highways, c-stores are in a unique position to stop trafficking on the front line, CIOMA said. Convenience Stores Against Trafficking (CSAT) will bring the latest resources and in-depth employee training in identifying and reporting trafficking to CIOMA’s extensive network of retail operators. By providing real-world training and in-store resources for victims, CIOMA and CSAT hope to provide victims pathways and opportunities to freedom from their captors that would not otherwise exist.
“Awareness is the critical first step in ending trafficking, and now CIOMA joins our goal of engaging the entire convenience-store industry to promote safety and support for their communities by becoming members of CSAT,” said In Our Backyard founder Nita Belles.
Sacramento, Calif.-based CIOMA represents the needs of independent wholesale and retail marketers of gasoline, diesel, lubricating oils and other petroleum products; transporters of those products; and retail convenience-store operators.
In Our Backyard is a nonprofit organization that links c-stores and other rest stops across America in the fight against human trafficking through awareness, action, education, legislative advising and advocacy for survivors. Its newest program, CSAT, raises public awareness of the issue and engages c-stores as trafficking prevention centers in local communities by training employees to recognize and report human trafficking.