Tenth Cohort of the Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program Announced

Dec 18, 2020 | Amy Chang

Supported by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA), the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has announced the tenth cohort of a mentorship program for retail food regulatory programs.

NACCHO encourages all retail food regulatory programs in the United States to use the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards), a set of nine Standards created by the FDA to reinforce proper sanitation and reduce factors associated with the occurrence of foodborne diseases. NACCHO’s Mentorship Program has supported state, local, tribal, and territorial retail food regulatory programs in implementing these standards for years. The program provides peer-to-peer assistance and intensive technical support to help enforce the Retail Program Standards efficiently and effectively. Experienced retail food regulatory programs (mentors) advise participating agencies (mentees) on how to get started and best apply the Retail Program Standards to improve their food protection programs. Mentees also gain insight on developing and implementing policies and procedures, completing self-assessments, and conducting verification audits. This year’s milestone cohort consists of 31 participants, including 9 mentors and 22 mentees, from across the nation.

The following are the mentor and mentee teams that will be working together for the 2020-2021 mentorship year:

Mentor: Fairfax County Health Department, VA
Mentees: Central Virginia Health District, VA (Standard 4 of the Retail Program Standards) and Rappahannock Rapidan Health District, VA (Standard 9)

Mentor: Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments, GA
Mentee: Cabarrus Health Alliance, NC (Standards 5 and 7); Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health, NV (Standards 3, 4, and 6); and Tulsa Health Department, OK (Standards 5 and 9)

Mentor: Harris County Public Health, TX
Mentee: Abilene-Taylor County Public Health, TX (Standards 3 and 7); City of El Paso, TX (Standards 2 and 4); Hardin County Health Department, TX (Standards 3, 5, and 9); and Jasper Newton County Public Health District, TX (Standard 5)

Mentor: Jefferson County Health Department, WV
Mentee: Mentees: Calhoun County Health Department, IL (Standard 2); Monongalia County Health Department, WV (Standard 8); and Portage County Health District, OH (Standards 2 and 9)

Mentor: New River Health District, VA
Mentee: Plano Environmental Health, TX (Standards 3 and 5)

Mentor: South Carolina Department of Health
Mentee: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (Self-Assessment and Standard 9)

Mentor: Southern Nevada Health District, NV
Mentee: City of Harrisburg, PA (Self-Assessment and Standards 3, 5, and 7); Clark County Public Health, WA (Standards 2 and 5); Lenoir County Environmental Health, NC (Self-Assessment and Standards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9)

Mentor: Vineland Health Department, NJ
Mentee: Chatham Health District, CT (Standards 3 and 5); Marion Public Health, OH (Standards 3 and 9); Union County Health Department, OH (Standard 9); and West Hartford-Bloomfield Health District, CT (Standards 6 and 8)

Mentor: Washoe County Health District, NV
Mentee: Mentees: Randolph County Public Health, NC (Standard 9)

Selected states for Cohort 10 of NACCHO's Mentorship Program for the Retail Program Standards.
Selected states for Cohort 10 of NACCHO’s Mentorship Program for the Retail Program Standards.


The Mentorship Program has helped participants from the first nine cohorts improve their inspection programs, train more inspection staff, enhance customer service, and implement innovative strategies to reduce risk factors at retail that may cause or contribute to foodborne illness outbreaks. Funding from the program has also helped participants purchase equipment needed for conducting inspections and food safety materials to educate their communities.

In addition to assistance and guidance provided by the peer mentors, staff from NACCHO and CFSAN, and Retail Food Specialists from the ORA’s Office of State Cooperative Programs will provide technical assistance to all participants in the Mentorship Program.

The 31 participants began the Mentorship Program in November 2020 and will complete it at the end of August 2021. Highlights of the program are a site visit* by the mentees to meet and work with their mentors and an end-of-the-year meeting* for all participants to report on progress, network and build partnerships, and share experiences. Throughout the program year, resources and tools developed by program participants will be shared with other regulatory programs, and one “sharing session” webinar on retail food topics will be scheduled and made available to all jurisdictions on the NACCHO website.

For more information, visit the Mentorship Program for the Retail Program Standards webpage.

*Most site visits and meetings may be virtual due to COVID-19.


About Amy Chang

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