The National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) announced its rededication to combating human trafficking on the first anniversary of its Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative.
Over the past year, NBWA has focused on mobilizing more than 140,000 beer distribution employees across the country in the fight against human trafficking by providing local distributors tools and resources to recognize and report signs of this crime.
Human trafficking continues to plague communities across the United States. In 2019 alone, the Polaris Project identified 22,326 victims and survivors of human trafficking — up 20% from the prior year.
Noting these statistics and the presence of beer distributors in 640,000 retail establishments across the country, NBWA identified the need to join the fight and founded the Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative in July of 2020. Alongside the National Association of Attorneys General Human Trafficking Committee former Co-Chair Sean Reyes (R-UT) and committee member Maura Healey (D-MA), NBWA launched the campaign to provide resources and training for beer distribution employees across the country to help educate them on the signs of human trafficking.
“We are incredibly proud of the growth of our Distributors Against Human Trafficking initiative since its launch one year ago,” says NBWA President and CEO Craig Purser. “With the investment and dedication of distributors in every state across the country, we’ve been able to train thousands of workers to recognize the signs of human trafficking on their daily routes, strengthening the forces already working relentlessly to end this criminal activity in the U.S.”
To date, NBWA has successfully trained nearly 24,000 beer distributors from 207 companies, surpassing its initial goal to train 10,000 distributors by the end of 2021. In January — National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month — NBWA aimed to train 1,000 workers but far surpassed that goal, training 5,164 instead. Now, NBWA aims to train at least 25,000 distributors by the end of the year.
Throughout 2020, NBWA collaborated with a bipartisan group of attorney generals across the country to spread awareness about human trafficking and the initiative itself. In March of 2021, NBWA hosted a webinar featuring a bipartisan panel of Attorneys General including Chris Carr (GA), Aaron Ford (NV), Eric Schmitt (MO) and Phil Weiser (CO). These leaders shared insights into how they are combating human trafficking in their states, and the role beer distributors can play to protect the most vulnerable. Beer distributors have partnered with 11 state attorneys general offices to promote this important program.
NBWA also partnered with independent organizations and member companies to strengthen the initiative. Street Grace, a community-based organization committed to fighting the sexual exploitation of minors, helped produce the awareness training video, and has remained a steadfast partner in the growth and success of the campaign.
Additionally, NBWA has supported distributors in building partnerships with local law enforcement and human rights organizations to strengthen the initiative. In January, Markstein Sales Co. of California joined forces with New Day for Children to illuminate the extent of the issue and identify steps that can be taken by beer distributors and others to fight human trafficking in their communities. The following month, the Montana Beer and Wine Distributors Association and the LifeGuard Group, an organization specializing in survivor support services for victims of human trafficking, collaborated to launch the Sentinel Project, a locally based initiative to combat human trafficking throughout the state.
“We anticipate continued growth throughout the next five months and are confident our industry will hit our increased target of 25,000 employees trained by the end of the year,” says Purser. “To do so, we plan to engage more industry and government leaders to continue to educate the public and the workforce on what they can do to combat human trafficking. Ultimately, increased awareness and training directly translates to lives saved from the horrendous crime that is human trafficking.”