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NEHA-FDA RFFM Mentorship Program in partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials

Aug 03, 2021 | Guest Author

Update: Applications for the program are now OPEN from September 9 through November 15, 2021 at 7:59 PM ET. Visit www.neha.org/retailgrants to register for the portal and apply today! Details on upcoming information sessions about the application process are below.

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) is excited to announce their partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to continue the tremendously successful Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards Mentorship Program that NACCHO has overseen since 2012. NEHA is honored to include this mentorship program as part of the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM) Grant Program.

Beginning this fall, NEHA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will collaboratively provide abundant financial support to state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) retail food regulatory agencies as they work to achieve and advance conformance with the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (VNRFRPS or Retail Program Standards). The new NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program will offer customizable approaches which enable grantees to design a program that best suits their capacity and ambitions.

Overview of Funding

Beginning in fall of 2021, NEHA, in partnership with FDA, will assist retail food regulatory agencies in their efforts to reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness and increase conformance with the Retail Program Standards. During the three-year award cycle, jurisdictions will be able to apply for six different grants through three different eligibility tracks based on their experience and achievements in the Retail Program Standards. Further details regarding specific award opportunities and amounts (including two base grant options and four optional add-ons grants), supported activities, eligibility requirements, expected outcomes, and exceptions will be made available on the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program website.

Mentorship RFFM Grant Program Support

The mentorship program is one of the optional add-on funding options available under the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program. Each year, participants will be eligible for up to $14,000 for mentees; mentors will receive $12k for one mentee, $15k for two, $18k for three, $21k for four, and $24k for five mentees.

Jurisdictions that apply for funding under the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program will be able to participate in the mentorship program in one of two ways:

  • Development Base Grant:
    • Applicants who are newly enrolled in the Retail Program Standards and who, as part of their award, are working towards completing a self-assessment of all nine Standards (SA9) or a Comprehensive Strategic Improvement Plan (CSIP) may apply to be a mentee; or
    • More experienced applicants who demonstrate expertise in one or more Standards may apply to be either a mentor or a mentee (but not both in a single year).
  • Maintenance and Advancement Base Grant:
    • Jurisdictions may participate as a mentor or a mentee (but not both in a single year) if they have a current SA9, complete a CSIP, have met and verified at least one Standard during their most recent self-assessment period, have either already met Standard 9 or are working towards one of two Public Health Metric Variable funding rate offered, and who, as part of their award, are working towards:
      • completion of a repeat SA9;
      • continuous improvement (achieving Elements within one or more Standards);
      • achieving conformance with one or more Standards by the end of the 3-year funding cycle; and/or
      • maintaining conformance with one or more Standards.

Those jurisdictions serving as mentors must identify and demonstrate proficiency in the Standards for which they intend to serve as a mentor to other jurisdictions and identify how many jurisdictions they are capable of mentoring – not to exceed five. The mentorship program will be funded for one year, with the opportunity to reapply annually for the duration of the three-year award cycle.

Mentorship Program Overview

Those participating in a mentorship program with their peers will learn, share experiences, and acquire tools and resources related to the Retail Program Standards. The mentorship program will match retail food regulatory agencies experienced in applying the Retail Program Standards with retail food regulatory agencies newly enrolled in the Retail Program Standards. This relationship will provide assistance, guidance, tools, resources, and recommendations for conducting a self-assessment, achieving a specific standard, or achieving multiple standards to retail food regulatory agencies that are newly enrolled in the Retail Program Standards.

View the video: “The Value of NACCHO’s Retail Standards Mentorship Program”

RFFM Grant Program Application

Jurisdictions interested in applying to the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program are encouraged to read our recent Food Safety Magazine article for details about available base grant funding and optional add-ons as well as information about how to prepare for a successful grant application. For the most up-to-date information and the answers to frequently asked questions, visit our webpage: www.neha.org/retailgrants.

Important Dates Regarding the Portal for the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program:

  • Registration for the portal to open on September 1, 2021
  • Applications open on the portal from September 9, 2021
  • Portal closes November 15, 2021 at 7:59 PM ET

Upcoming Calls/Webinars of Interest

To learn more about the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program, please save the dates for the following upcoming informational sessions:

  • FDA 2021 Retail Food Protection Seminar: Taking place on Thursday, September 16, 2021, (4) separate NEHA-FDA RFFM workshops will be held, from 1-5 PM ET, to provide guidance on navigating the various aspects of the grant program. To register and view the full agenda, click here.
  • FDA 50 States Conference Call: On Tuesday, September 21, 2021, from 1-2 PM ET, the FDA will host a conference call for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial retail food agency officials. Anyone interested in learning more about the program is welcome to join. The log-in information is as follows:
    • Audio: (800)-857-5383 | Participant Passcode: 9380279
    • WebEx Link
      • Conference Number: PWXW2394249
      • Participant Passcode: 9380279

NEHA is committed to supporting jurisdictional retail food protection agencies in their efforts to reduce the occurrence of foodborne illness through conformance with the Retail Program Standards.

For additional inquiries, please contact our NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Support Team via email at retailgrants@neha.org or toll-free at (833) 575-2404.

Additional Links


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NACCHO periodically invites guest authors to write first-person accounts of their work in public health. To submit your own story for consideration, please visit our form.

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