During a recent study break, my five girl friends and I piled into an Uber for a trip to the famous and beloved In-N-Out, a fast-food burger joint dotted all over California. I ordered my favorite – one of their famous “double double” burgers with pickle and onion and some fries. Opted to skip the shake.
We sat down in one of their signature plastic booths and started mowing down our food when I noticed the placemat on our tray – and flyers and posters around the restaurant – all bringing attention to human trafficking.
I started reading them all and taking some pictures – my interest in human trafficking started at an early age. I grew up in Northern Virginia, and had volunteered for Women in Homeland Security for many years. Throughout high school I had worked with the organization every January to raise awareness around human trafficking – and in 2013 – invited Helon Habila, author of the Chibok Girls: The Boko Haram Kidnappings & Islamic Militancy in Nigeria to join a ½ day program I created.
Every January, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security directs a campaign to raise awareness around human trafficking. They host programs and encourage everyone to wear blue on January 11 (#wearblueday – this year taking place TODAY because of the government shut down). To my fellow college students, however, January is just another month. I’ve found that it’s extremely hard to raise awareness for something like human trafficking, where the average person believes that the problem is in underdeveloped countries and never affects them or anyone they know.
I was curious about the In–N-Out campaign and with a little more digging, discovered that this was part of the company’s Slave 2 Nothing Foundation, established in 2016 to “help improve the lives of individuals and families affected by substance abuse and/or human trafficking.” For the month of January, In-N-Out encourages customers to donate and matches donations to the foundation 3 to 1. The website says:
“During January, in support of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, In-N-Out Burger® will match your donation 3-to-1 up to $250,000. Across all 50 states, victims of human trafficking silently cry for help. You can help us fight this injustice and bring hope to thousands in our very own communities. Human trafficking, also known as modern-day slavery, involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation through forced labor or commercial sex acts.”
Estimates on Quora of how many burgers they serve suggests around 345,000 burgers per day, meaning 10,350,000 burgers in 30 days. So in the month of January, the restaurant chain may raise awareness to millions simply by focusing their placemats and counters on educating everyone about the dangers of trafficking and enslavement.
The Slave 2 Nothing Foundation’s mission is to free people from being enslaved to any person or substance. They are able to fulfill that mission by providing financial support to organizations in communities that create, educate, and assist with solutions to eliminate human trafficking, and assist individuals and their families to gain freedom and healing from substance abuse.
In-N-Out is a family-owned business, noted for its employee-centered business practices and quality service. It is a favorite of anyone who has tried it…and is one of the only fast food chains to pay its employees higher than the minimum wage. Their commitment to important charities did not begin with human trafficking. In 1995, In-N-Out opened its first foundation, the In-N-Out Burgers Foundation, which assists children who are the victims of domestic abuse through foster care and adoption services, intervention and enrichment programs, and domestic violence and homelessness assistance.
During Human Trafficking Awareness Month it seems a Double Double really could save a life.
“Being able to gather as a big family and know that if we move together and do this, that we can really change, we can change the world.”
– Lynsi Snyer, President, In-N-Out Burger