Three Food City nominees named Top Women in Grocery

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2021

ABINGDON, Va. — Progressive Grocer’s Top Women in Grocery program recognizes the important role that women play in the food and grocery industry. Three of Food City’s women grocers were named among this year’s top winners: Barbara Thomas, vice president of training & front-end operations, Melissa McCall, pharmacy professional services manager, and Malinda Sallee, Weber City, Va., store manager. “Congratulations to our three honorees who come from different areas of our operations. We’re extremely proud of all of our women grocers who contribute so much to our communities, our company, and our industry,” said Steve Smith, Food City president and chief executive officer.
Progressive Grocer received over 800 nominations from women grocers in all sectors of the industry across the nation. This year’s winners were showcased in their June issue and will also be recognized in November at their annual awards gala in Orlando, Fla.
Barbara Thomas heads up the front-end operations, training, and food safety departments for the chain’s 137 retail supermarkets. She also supervises the company’s retail and corporate internship programs and served as a vital member of their COVID-19 task force. Throughout the pandemic, Thomas was largely responsible for implementing COVID policies and procedures. She assisted with the hiring/training of nearly 2,500 new associates, worked closely with state agencies and industry associations, and collaborated with distribution center leadership to create a special retail reserve team to maintain product distribution during the height of the pandemic. Thomas’ team spearheaded the installation of a new front-end system throughout the entire chain, resulting in a 20% increase in productivity, 20% reduction in shrink, and a 0.41% reduction in labor, while maintaining customer service goals. They also implemented 75 new/updated computer-based learning courses.
Melissa McCall supervises pharmacy operations for 43 stores in Food City’s Tri-City operating division. Her team collaborated with local health districts to offer COVID-19 testing at a number of rural locations throughout their market area. She was instrumental in obtaining approval for all of her pharmacy locations to participate in the federal COVID-19 vaccine allocation to the general public. Nineteen of her 43 stores administered COVID vaccines allocated by the Virginia Department of Health early on. McCall holds a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the Gatton College of Pharmacy and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Milligan College. She is licensed by the Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia Boards of Pharmacy and certified in immunization delivery, CPR, and diabetic pharmaceutical care. She is a certified Diabetes Health Coach through the APhA to provide associate diabetic counseling services, is an active member of the Tennessee Pharmacist Association, and serves on the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy.
Malinda Sallee manages Food City’s Weber City, Va., location. She is a front runner for the company in terms of sale increases, income, shrink performance, customer service, and associate retention. She emerged as a pioneer early in the pandemic, implementing a number of innovative safety measures that would later be adopted by state officials and national health organizations. Her proactive approach proved invaluable in helping to maintain safe working and shopping conditions. Sallee’s store was selected as one of the area’s first drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites. Her pharmacy served as a state COVID-19 vaccination site early on and is now a federal vaccination site for the general public. She implemented a number of innovative programs to boost associate moral during these challenging times, including instore graduations to honor and celebrate her associates. She played a key role in hosting the community’s first drive thru Santa Train, an event which has historically distributed candy, toys, food, and gifts to those in need along its 110-mile track through the mountains of Southern Appalachia. Her team was awarded the 2020 memorial Ed Moore Santa Train Award in recognition of their outstanding efforts and dedication to the Santa Train’s mission.
Headquartered in Abingdon, Va., K-VA-T Food Stores (Food City’s parent company) operates 137 retail outlets throughout southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, north Georgia, and Alabama