A Simple Guide for Jurisdictions New to the Retail Program Standards- Calendar Year 2022

The Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards (Retail Program Standards ) define what constitutes a highly effective and responsive program for the regulation of foodservice and retail food establishments. They begin by providing a foundation and system upon which all regulatory programs can build through a continuous improvement process. The Retail Program Standards encourage regulatory agencies to improve and build upon existing programs. Further, they provide a framework designed to accommodate both traditional and emerging approaches to food safety. The Retail Program Standards are intended to reinforce proper sanitation (good retail practices) and operational and environmental prerequisite programs while encouraging regulatory agencies and industry to focus on the factors that cause and contribute to foodborne illness, with the goal of reducing the occurrence of those factors.

For jurisdictions new to the Retail Program Standards, the following information can assist in determining the steps necessary to learn more about the Retail Program Standards, enroll with FDA in this important voluntary program, and register for the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM) Grant Program. The NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program, accepting applications until November 15, 2021 for CY 2022 funding, presents an excellent opportunity for jurisdictions interested in learning about and beginning to move forward in the Retail Program Standards.


If you have not yet enrolled in the Retail Program Standards, enrollment is your first step and is a requirement to apply for funding through the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program. The enrollment process is simple and can be completed by following these steps:

  1. Review the FDA VNRFRPS guidance online, including the Administrative Procedures.
  2. Contact the FDA Retail Food Safety Specialist assigned to your geographic area, and notify them of your intent to enroll.
  3. Complete FDA National Registry Report (FDA Form 3958) and submit it to your Retail Food Specialist. FDA Form 3958 is available at: FDA National Registry Report (FDA Form 3958) .

Once you have contacted your FDA Retail Food Safety Specialist and completed and submitted FDA Form 3958, you are considered “enrolled” for the purposes of the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program and can apply for funding.

Eligibility Track 1 of the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program

Once you are enrolled in the Retail Program Standards, your next step is to register with the NEHA-FDA Grant Program, which can be accomplished by clicking on the “Access the Grant Portal” button on the neha.org/retailgrants website.

New enrollees must begin in Eligibility Track 1 of the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program, which provides a unique opportunity for new jurisdictions to lay down a sturdy foundation for success in the Retail Program Standards. To maximize the benefits offered by this grant program, we strongly recommend that new enrollees apply for all three Track 1 grants, including:

  1. A one-year Development Base Grant, offering up to $5,000 for completion of a Self-Assessment of all Nine Standards (SA9).
  2. A one-year Mentorship Optional Add-On Grant, offering up to $14,000 to become a mentee and expert assistance from a mentor with SA9 expertise.
  3. A one-year Training / Staff Development and Program Standards Engagement Optional Add-On Grant, offering up to $7,500 to enable one or more of your staff members to attend a Self-Assessment and Verification Audit Workshop.


Applicants to the NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program can expect enhanced technical assistance, simple applications, clear grant guidance, and a responsive Grant Program Support Team.

The NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Portal is also used for project reporting, with the goal of keeping the reporting burden low for grantees. Funds under this program are generally awarded on a reimbursement basis, but advance funding is always available upon request. Payments will be made directly by NEHA to the awarded jurisdiction, so there is no need to register for eRA Commons nor with the Payment Management System. Even as they deal with the challenges of COVID-19, jurisdictions of all sizes continue to find the Retail Program Standards a valuable, supportive asset to their programs.


After just one year of participation in NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program, you can expect to attain:

  • A completed Self-Assessment of All Nine Standards, enabling your retail food regulatory agency to set attainable goals for progress through the nine Retail Program Standards.
  • An increased ability to assess how the Retail Program Standards can benefit your program and improve Public Health in your community.
  • Strengthened relationships with other enrolled jurisdictions, especially if you chose to participate as a mentee through a Mentorship Optional Add-On Grant.

The NEHA-FDA RFFM Grant Program Support Team offers significant assistance to applicants and grantees via phone or email. Please contact our team at: retailgrants@neha.org or toll-free at: 1-833-575-2404, Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. -8 p.m. ET.