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    Calif. Adding Grocers to Disaster Response System

    The California Grocers Association is part of a pact that will allow grocers and other private sector players to respond more quickly in the face of trouble.

    The California Grocers Association and other business organizations have inked an agreement with Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that makes the trade group's members key partners in the state's disaster response system, to expedite relief efforts and maximize critical resources.

    Along with the CGA, the pact includes Wal-Mart Stores, Business Executives for National Security, and the California Utilities Emergency Association.

    "These Memorandum of Understandings will allow for more targeted and efficient delivery of goods and services by formalizing 24-hour contacts with the private sector," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "Having the private sector side-by-side with state and federal emergency management personnel will expedite response activities and maximize resources."

    The agreement is the first of many the state Office of Emergency Services (OES) plans to have signed that will allow government agencies to access emergency management professionals in the private sector at all times.

    In addition, the private sector partners will have access to the State Operations Center during an emergency or natural disaster to staff a "Business Operations Center" now being established by the OES.

    "The coordinated effort between the public and private sector to provide aid and relief to the millions of California residents impacted by the devastating fires demonstrated how two separate entities, both with incredible resources at their disposal, can respond efficiently and effectively when called upon," said CGA president Ronald Fong. "Having access to all key government agencies in one central location, obtaining essential disaster information and updates in a timely manner, assisting with critical issues as they developed, and the open exchange of ideas, processes, capabilities and contacts was crucial to the overwhelming success of last year's wildfire relief efforts."

    But the MOU is just the beginning, according to Fong. "CGA [will be] strengthening and expanding this important partnership in the months and years to come," he said. "The grocery industry has a long history of answering the call for help. Streamlining the distribution system through coordinated planning and implementation will only strengthen our industry's commitment to respond when disaster strikes."

    Several CGA members attended the signing ceremony, including Albertsons, Vons and Whole Foods.

    The CGA is a non-profit, statewide trade association representing the food industry since 1898. It represents approximately 500 retail members operating over 6,000 food stores in California and Nevada, and approximately 200 grocery supplier companies.

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