The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) are increasing their efforts to strengthen regulatory retail food programs and practices across the nation with grants and educational workshops. In March, over $7 million in funding was awarded to 228 state, local, territorial, and tribal (SLTT) regulatory retail food jurisdictions as part of the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM) Grant Program. The funding is intended to support SLTT jurisdictions in aligning with the Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (RPS).

In the first year of the RFFM grant program, 444 total grants were awarded to 228 jurisdictions for development, maintenance and advancement, mentorship, training and staff development, special projects, and capacity building. The program also features mentorship led by the National Association for City and Council Officials that provides jurisdictions the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with each other as they work to achieve RPS.

FDA and NEHA are also conducting two upcoming RPS Self-Assessment and Verification Audit Workshops. The workshops will run for 2.5 days each. The dates and locations for the workshops are as follows: 

  • May 24–26, 2022: Aloft Tampa Midtown, Tampa, Florida
  • June 26–28, 2022: Davenport Grand, Autograph Collection, Spokane, Washington. The event will be held as a preconference workshop at the NEHA 2022 Annual Educational Conference and Exhibition.

The workshops will provide an overview of RPS, which define the optimal program for regulating foodservice and retail food establishments. The workshops will also thoroughly cover the RPS self-assessment and verification audit processes, worksheets, and forms. Specifically, the workshops will explore:

  • The requirements for all nine of the Retail Food Program Standards
  • Approaches to meeting criteria for the Retail Food Program Standards
  • How to use Retail Food Program Standards documents to complete a self-assessment verification audit, and how to use the documents when electronically compiling and maintaining results.

The workshops are intended for program managers or individuals responsible for conducting program self-assessments and preparing for verification audits. The workshops’ interactive exercises will provide participants with hands-on experience in self-assessment and verification audit preparation. Prior to the workshops, participants should have a solid understanding of the nine RPS and their criteria.