LOS ANGELES — Being a grocer provides a prime opportunity to touch people's lives, David Dillon, chairman and chief executive officer of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, said here this week. Speaking to the graduating class of the Food Industry Management program at the University of Southern California, Dillon described the grocery business as "ordinary people doing ordinary jobs that touch the lives of other people." He cited two examples of how grocers touch the lives of others: an assistant manager at a Ralphs store in Malibu, Calif., who evacuated others from his store when a fire threatened the area last summer but stayed on the job and kept the store open "because he believed the firefighters might need food and other supplies from the store," Dillon said; and employees at a Fry's store in Arizona, who paid special attention to a 4-year-old boy stricken with spina bifida and encephalitis when he visited the store with his grandfather and, after the boy died, brought food to his family at Thanksgiving, provided gifts at Christmas and donated money for a headstone. "That's the grocery business," said Dillon, who was the guest speaker after being named Food Industry Executive of the Year by USC and the Western Association of Food Chains, which sponsors the USC program.
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