NACCHO is pleased to announce the selection of the fifth cohort of participants for its Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program. The peer mentorship program provides opportunities to learn, share experiences, and acquire tools and resources related to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards).
Developed by the FDA, the Retail Program Standards guide local health departments in designing and managing a retail food regulatory program, and provide a means of recognizing programs that meet the standards. The program consists of nine standards that enable local health departments to critically assess and improve their retail food regulatory programs.
NACCHO’s program, now in its fifth year, pairs local health department practitioners who are experienced in applying the Retail Program Standards with those newly enrolled and/or looking for assistance, guidance, tools, resources, and recommendations for continued success. Participants will design plans for reaching program milestones, conduct self-assessments, develop improvement plans, and conduct verification audits, among other learning activities. Moreover, participation in the mentorship program helps to strengthen relationships between local health departments, states, and regional FDA offices.
The mentorship program has been growing since its inception in 2012. The first year included nine local health departments; the second cohort grew to include 15 local health departments; the third cohort included 18; the fourth cohort included 24; and the fifth cohort will include 27. Participants will begin the program this month and will complete it in at the end of August 2016. Total investment has been nearly $1.2 million among all five cohorts .
The primary benefits of the mentorship program are to:
- Facilitate progress and achievement of the Retail Program Standards;
- Provide the opportunity to learn from an experienced peer mentor; and
- Facilitate networking such that folks can continue to progress on the Standards after the formal mentorship program has ended.
The mentorship program has provided participants with many additional benefits and opportunities. For example, participants have used the funding to purchase field supplies needed for inspections (i.e. laptops), cover registration and travel costs for staff to attend training courses and educational conferences, cover staff time, and secure interns and consultants.
In addition, participants have cited the following skills and benefits as gained through their participation in the mentorship program:
- A deeper understanding of the specific Retail Program Standards the participant focused;
- Increased overall understanding of the FDA Retail Program Standards program;
- Improved public speaking skills;
- Recognition as subject matter experts;
- Opportunities to networking and interact with other health departments;
- Expanded skills learned through trainings attended (FDA courses, HACCP training, conferences); and
- Improved interactions and relationships with the retail food industry.
The Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program fifth cohort includes:
Mentor: Fairfax County Health Department (VA)
Mentee: Rockingham County Environmental Health (NC)
Mentee: New River Health District (VA)
Mentee: Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department (VA)
Mentee: Oakland County Health Division (MI)
Mentee: Wilkes County Health Department (NC)
Mentor: Riverside County Department of Environmental Health (CA)
Mentee: Butte County Public Health Department, Environmental Health Division (CA)
Mentee: County of El Dorado Public Health Division (CA)
Mentor: Vineland Health Department (NJ)
Mentee: Chatham County Public Health Department (NC)
Mentee: Englewood Health Department (NJ)
Mentee: North Shore Health Department (WI)
Mentor: Pitt County Environmental Health (NC)
Mentee: Hoke County Health Department (NC)
Mentee: Jackson County Department of Public Health (NC)
Mentee: Lee County Health Department (NC)
Mentor: Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services (TX)
Mentee: Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Environmental Health Dept. (GA)
Mentee: Northwest Georgia Public Health District 1-1 (GA)
Mentee: Clackamas County Environmental Health (OR)
Mentor: Lake County General Health District (OH)
Mentee: Summit County Public Health (OH)
Mentee: Ottawa County Department of Public Health (MI)
Mentor: Southern Nevada Health District (NV)
Mentee: Tippecanoe County Health Department (IN)
Mentee: Ogle County Health Department (IL)
- Some local health departments have participated in more than one cohort. There are approximately 70 unique local health departments that have participated.