NACCHO, in coordination with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is now accepting mentee and mentor applications (through Friday, October 13, 2017) from state, local, territorial, and tribal retail food regulatory programs for the 2017-2018 cohort of NACCHO’s Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program. Program participants (mentors and mentees) will have opportunities to learn, share experiences, and acquire tools and resources related to the FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards).
The mentorship program, now in its seventh year, connects retail food regulatory program practitioners who are experienced in applying the Retail Program Standards with those who are newly enrolled and looking for assistance, guidance, tools, resources, and recommendations for achieving a specific standard. Eligible participants include food regulatory programs operating at the state, local, tribal, and territorial level.
Since launching in 2012, the mentorship program has been a tremendous success. Based on an assessment of the first five program cohort, all participants reported that engagement in the program stimulated quality and performance improvement opportunities within their agency. Participants also indicated that the program helped their agency to better identify strengths and weaknesses in their retail food program. The program’s high return on investment is best described in the words of past participants.
“Our experience in the mentorship program was extremely valuable,” said former mentee, Maya Kulick, Senior Environmental Health Specialist at Summit County environmental Health (CO). “We are a small health department and were working to meet one of the FDA’s program standards. We didn’t know all of the pitfalls that come along with being audited. Through our mentorship we were able to put in all of the work ahead of the audit in order for the audit to go smoothly. It was great getting to see a much larger health department in action and all of the services they were able to provide.”
Mentee participants make significant progress towards their mentorship program work plan’s goals and objectives.Common work plan items included:
- Meeting components of Standard(s);
- Meeting a specific Standard, or conducting a self-assessment;
- Developing improvement plans; and
- Conducting verification audits.
Furthermore, agencies serving as mentors have also benefited greatly from their participation. Program mentors have the opportunity to learn from and re-purpose materials and policies from their mentees. Even more importantly, through their participation, mentors directly advance the food safety and defense sector by strengthening the capacity of their peer agencies as it relates to their knowledge and engagement around the FDA standards.
“Involvement in the mentorship program re-engaged the importance of the Standards program by creating a conversation around the topic in staff and management meetings,” explained a past mentor representing the Fairfax County Health Department (VA). Activities with other local health departments [in the program] have staff not generally associated with the Standards to get involved and interact with other locals and learn about the Standards.”
Click here to watch a video testimonial and hear about additional benefits directly from past program participants. Interested applicants are also encouraged to learn more information by reading NACCHO’s Retail Program Standards Mentorship Program flyer.
NACCHO plans to award approximately $200,000 in total to selected program participants. Anticipated award amounts range from up to $8,000 per selected mentee, and between $8,000 and $18,000 per selected mentor (exact amounts will vary based on number of mentees). The program will begin in November 2017 and conclude on August 31, 2018. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance in early to mid-November 2017.
NACCHO is accepting applications through 8:00 pm ET on October 13, 2017. Please note there are two separate Request for Applications (RFA) and applications designated for agencies interested in applying as program mentors or mentees. Prospective applicants should ensure to use the appropriate application materials based on their agency’s needs and eligibility by selecting one of the following RFAs:
Additionally, NACCHO will host two RFA informational webinar sessions scheduled for the dates and times listed below. Interested applicants are highly encouraged to attend by using the below webinar access information:
- September 11 from 2:00-2:30 pm ET
- September 27 from 1:00-1:30 pm ET
Webinar Access Information:
- Call-in number: 1-866-740-1260
- Access code: 5074221
- Webinar link: http://naccho.adobeconnect.com/nacchomentorship/
Please visit NACCHO’s mentorship program website to review all applicant documents prior to submitting an application. NACCHO’s food safety team is also happy to answer any additional questions via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.