School Wellness Policy Cooperative Agreement
The Local Wellness Policy Surveillance System will allow us to monitor, collect, and analyze state law and local district policy data and their effects on the implementation of HHFKA legislation and rules and student health outcomes. This competitive cooperative agreement solicits applications for a national-level surveillance system that will address the current gaps in surveillance by current federally and non-federally funded systems and surveys.
Three major federal-level surveillance systems and surveys are currently in place and are scheduled to continue for at least the next 2-3 years, if not indefinitely. Each of these surveillance systems and surveys is funded by a government agency, and each collects detailed data on the breadth and depth of existing state laws, district policies, and related school practices; the implementation of said laws, policies, and practices; and their effects on student health outcomes. The next section describes the strengths, primary areas of focus, periodicity, and other key characteristics for each of three major national surveillance systems and surveys. In so doing, it also highlights important gaps in what they cover, individually and collectively, and areas where linkage with other relevant surveys or research efforts would provide a more detailed picture of school wellness policies and their effects.
1. School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study/School Nutrition Dietary Assessment
The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment (SNDA) is administrated by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) every 5 years and collects and analyzes nationally representative data on school meals and the school meal environment (including competitive foods) at the district- and school-levels, with individual-level dietary information collected every 10 years.14 SNDA-V will be administered as the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS) in SY 2014-2015 and will include SNDA-type, meal assessment data as well as data on meal cost, dietary recall, plate waste, and meals’ compliance with standards.
SNDA/SNMCS is the only assessment that examines specifically the nutritional quality of school meals, how and if those meals are meeting the new standards, and meal cost. Examining SNDA/SNMCS data together with state law and district policy data, which SNDA does not currently collect, has the potential to demonstrate how the laws and policies at the state- and district-level are being implemented in, or affecting, lunchrooms (with regard to meal planning and meal environment) and students (with regard to meal cost and diet).
2. Classification of Laws Associated with School Students
The National Cancer Institute’s Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (C.L.A.S.S.) is a policy classification system that can be used to evaluate state-level codified laws for nutrition and physical education in schools across all 50 states and the District of Columbia by grade level. C.L.A.S.S. uses state law as the data source and scores the concordance between state laws and national school wellness policy mandates. Currently, C.L.A.S.S. measures are collected annually, with the next cycle beginning in 2014. C.L.A.S.S. data are publicly available for use by researchers, policy makers, and school administrators to obtain information on state laws associated with childhood obesity, track policy changes over time, test relationships between law and behavior, associate C.L.A.S.S. scores with state- and school district-policies, and link to information about obesity and other cancer-related behaviors. C.L.A.S.S. also offers two data visualization tools: (1) a map function that depicts the strength of specific policy areas by grade level across states, and (2) a profile function that depicts policy scores across grade levels within each state by year.
While C.L.A.S.S. is the only classification system that objectively scores state laws on nutritional and physical activity, it does not identify specific elements of the state laws. Therefore, additional, complementary research is required to parse out and examine relationships between individual policy components (e.g., addressing sugar or fat content in school foods) and related school practices and student outcomes (e.g., diet, physical activity, BMI).
3. School Health Policies and Practices Study
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS) is a national, comprehensive survey conducted to assess school wellness at the state-, district-, school-, and classroom-levels. SHPPS surveys cover health education, physical education, health services, mental health and social services, nutrition services, healthy and safe school environments, and faculty and staff health promotion. Due to the comprehensive design of SHPPS, wellness policy data may be linked with other school health data. SHPPS data are collected every two years, alternating school- and classroom-level data collection with district-level data collection. In its next cycle (2014), SHPPS will collect school- and classroom-level data, and in the following cycle (2016) it will collect district-level data. Beginning in 2016, SHPPS will no longer collect state-level data.
SHPPS is unique in monitoring both school health policies and school wellness policies, which is essential for linking LWPs to student health outcomes such as services received, safety, and environments. The multi-level aspect of SHPPS assessments presents the opportunity for linking this data with state law data in order to show the effects of state laws on LWPs, and the effects of LWPs on overall health. However, SHPPS data are not collected annually.
Great progress has been made in adopting school wellness policies and in developing surveillance systems to monitor their implementation and impact. Yet continued progress in school wellness, school wellness policy development, and positive impacts will require surveillance that provides a fuller understanding of the strengths and limitations of current policies, and that chart the course for evidence-based improvements. This competitive cooperative agreement solicits applications for a national-level surveillance system that will address the most important gaps in the coverage of the existing school wellness policy surveillance systems and surveys. Applicants seeking funding under this School Wellness Policy Cooperative Agreement should consider, at a minimum, the following specific capabilities when developing their proposals:
•The capability to link enacted school district wellness policy and related state law data with data being collected through other existing surveillance systems (e.g., SNDA, CLASS, SHPPS) in 2014-2015 (i.e., data collection occurring at various levels as outlined above);
•The capability to conduct a nationwide evaluation of the scope of “on-the-books” (enacted) school district wellness policies and related state laws;
•The ability to collect and analyze qualitative data that can explore the implementation of and compliance with HHFKA policies across various stakeholders (e.g., administrators, school food authorities, parents, children, etc.);
•The capacity to develop and disseminate timely policy briefs, fact sheets, and other translation products (e.g., infographics) to inform the USDA, Congress, and the research field of key school wellness policy surveillance results and gaps as well as to produce papers for peer-reviewed publication; and
The focus of single or multiple-entity agency funding for the winning proposal(s) should be minimally to compile “on-the-books” wellness policy data for a nationally representative sample of public school districts and concomitant state laws using an innovative approach that encompasses the above-listed potential areas of focus and other policy opportunities. The Grantees (Recipients) shall work cooperatively with FNS on the study design and evaluation.
General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Office: Food and Nutrition Service
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
Fiscal Year 2014: n/a. Fiscal Year 2015: The cooperative agreement was awarded on February 1, 2015 to the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) in the amount of $1,699,985. This update covers the first five months of grant activity. The project objectives, activities, and timelines were refined. The grantee began collecting and coding school wellness policies at the state and district levels. Qualitative research began with interviews with school food service directors. UIC is summarizing results in a report, briefs, and a manuscript. Fiscal Year 2016: The awardee will continue its activities.
Section 204 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 added Section 9A to the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act (NSLA) (42 U.S.C. 1758b), Local School Wellness Policy Implementation, in order to strengthen wellness policies of LEAs by placing greater emphasis on implementation and evaluation efforts.
Who is eligible to apply/benefit from this assistance?
No Credentials or documentation are required. This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Subpart E - Cost Principles.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Preapplication coordination is not applicable. Environmental impact information is not required for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.
2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards applies to this program.
FNS will pre-screen all applications to ensure that they contain the required documents and information. Application will need to be submitted by eligible applicants, meet all other eligibility requirements stated in this RFA, submitted on or before the required deadlines, are completed and are in the required format. If an application does not include all appropriate information, FNS will consider the application to be non-responsive and will eliminate it from further evaluation.
Following the initial screening process, FNS will assemble a peer panel group to review and determine the technical merits of each application. The peer panel will evaluate the proposals based on how well they address the required application components. The peer panel members will recommend applications for consideration for a grant award based on the evaluation scoring. The selecting official reserves the right to award a grant to meet agency priorities, program balance, geographical representation, or project diversity. FNS reserves the right to use this solicitation and competition to award additional grants in future fiscal years should additional funds be made available through future appropriations.
Contact the headquarters or regional office, as appropriate, for application deadlines.
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
How are proposals selected?
Scoring for Grant Applications
Need, Readiness and Likelihood of Success 25 points
•The applicant is appropriate for the grant, i.e. the applicant can demonstrate support and readiness for starting (or adapting and continuing) a school wellness policy surveillance system.
Alignment with School Wellness Policy Surveillance System Program Goals 25 points
•The project goals and objectives are in line with the School Wellness Policy Surveillance System Cooperative Agreement focus areas and purpose of the funding described in this RFA.
Project Design and Management 30 points
•The qualifications of the staff involved with the proposed project and/or organizational leadership reflect the expertise necessary to carry out the proposed project and reporting requirements. (Resumes of key staff are required).
•The management approach indicates that the applicant has the capacity to manage and execute the planning project successfully to meet the goals of the project.
Sustainability and Transferability10 points
Budget Plan 10 points
•The total funding amount requested is appropriate for the scope of the project.
•Project costs are reasonable, necessary and allocable to carry out the project’s goals and objectives.
How may assistance be used?
The funds can be used for an implementation study around school wellness policies (see RFA for more details).
What are the requirements after being awarded this opportunity?
Throughout the grant period and upon its completion, deliverables will be submitted to USDA and/or published with the aims of disseminating research findings (i.e., wellness policy surveillance results and gaps), informing policy development and evidence-based improvements, and serving as tools for practitioners, advocates, and school administrators. A broad range of dissemination methods will be employed to communicate research findings to both targeted school wellness stakeholder groups and the public at large including, but not necessarily limited to: articles in BTG, AFHK, and Rudd newsletters; descriptive reports; research briefs; info graphics; webinars; email blasts; social media (e.g., Twitter); postings to the BTG, AFHK, and Rudd websites; conference presentations; and scientific journal publications.
For internal use informational purposes, FNS shall be provided an electronic copy of all manuscripts resulting from this grant at the time of submission for publication and in final form when published. No cash reports are required. The recipient will be responsible for managing and monitoring the progress of the grant project activities and performance. The award document will indicate the reporting schedule for submitting project performance/progress reports to FNS. Any additional reporting requirements will be identified in the award terms and conditions.
Progress reports must be sent to the Agency 30 days following the end of each quarterly period. Progress reports should information such as: a narrative description of project progress, tasks completed, and roadblocks or problems; reasons why goals and objectives were not met; budget impact and/or costs associated within this reporting period; key activities planned for the next report period; and findings or activities which may require changes in schedule, accomplishments, or costs. A final report identifying the accomplishments of the project is due 90 days after the end date of the grant agreement. The award recipient will be required to enter the SF-425, Financial Status Report data into the FNS Food Program Reporting System (FPRS) on a quarterly basis and submit a Final Financial Report within 90 days after the end of the grant agreement. In order to access FPRS, the grant recipient must obtain USDA e-authentication certification and access to FPRS. More detailed instructions for reporting will be included in the FNS Federal financial assistance award package. See RFA.
In accordance with the provisions of 2 CFR 200, Subpart F - Audit Requirements, non-Federal entities that expend financial assistance of $750,000 or more in Federal awards will have a single or a program-specific audit conducted for that year. Non-Federal entities that expend less than $750,000 a year in Federal awards are exempt from Federal audit requirements for that year, except as noted in 2 CFR 200.503.
Records (financial/administrative/grant) are to be maintained according to the time requirements specified in the terms of the grant, or cooperative agreement with Food and Nutrition Service or as applicable under federal regulation requirements.
Grantee shall provide quarterly and final reports as outlined in section 111.
Grantee must account for project funds separately from federal food nutrition assistance administrative funds and establish financial and management reporting and controls to assure that project funds are not commingled or used inappropriately. A separate and distinct audit trail must be established and maintained for the expenditure of project funds that clearly demonstrates that they are used solely for project purposes.
Grantee must provide FNS with any data files created and used to generate reports, presentations, and publications resulting from this grant. Such data shall be accompanied with analytic code, output files, and codebooks and other applicable documentation sufficient for FNS to replicate the analyses.
For internal use and informational purposes, ensure Grantee and sub-contractors provide FNS with an electronic copy of all manuscripts resulting from their sub-grants at the time of submission for publication and in final form when published.
Equipment records must be maintained that include the description of the equipment, the serial number or other identification number, the source of equipment, the title holder, the acquisition date, the cost of the equipment, the location, use, and condition of the equipment, and any ultimate disposition data including the date of disposal and the sale price of the equipment. A physical inventory of the equipment must be taken and the results reconciled with the equipment records at least once every two years. The Recipient will share the results of this inventory. A Tangible Personal Property Report, SF-428, must be submitted at award close-out to report the status of the equipment, if requested
Evaluation and Access to Records (2 CFR 200.336): The Recipient will cooperate with any evaluation of the program by providing the Agency requested data and access to records. The Recipient will cooperate with any, as needed, on site financial and/or technical reviews and audits at any time during the term of the agreement. In addition, the Grantee shall make all records pertaining to activities under the grant available for audit purposes. The Recipient will require any sub-recipient or contractors to comply with the requirements of this agreement and ensure that the Agency has access to any sub-recipient or contractors for purposes of evaluating, monitoring or reviewing other operations or records as they relate to this grant. When entering into a sub-award, the Recipient shall ensure that the sub-recipient agreement contains any clause required by Federal Statute or Executive Order and their implementing regulations.
Other Assistance Considerations
Formula and Matching Requirements
Statutory formulas are not applicable to this program.
Matching requirements are not applicable to this program.
MOE requirements are not applicable to this program.
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
The total time period for which a grant or cooperative agreement is awarded may not exceed 60 months. See the following for information on how assistance is awarded/released: Funding will be made to successful recipients as specified in the terms of the grant or cooperative agreement with Food and Nutrition Service or as applicable under federal regulation requirements. Method of awarding/releasing assistance: quarterly.
Who do I contact about this opportunity?
Regional or Local Office
Alice Ann Gola 3101 Park Center Dr., Alexandria, Virginia 22302 Email: AliceAnn.Gola@fns.usda.gov
No Data Available
(Salaries) FY 14 $0; FY 15 est $185,445; and FY 16 est $871,743
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Award amount = $1,699,985.
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Examples of Funded Projects
Fiscal Year 2014: n/a. Fiscal Year 2015: The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) was awarded this cooperative agreement. The overall goal of this Cooperative Agreement will be for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) to work with USDA to conduct a National Wellness Policy Study (NWPS). The proposed NWPS builds directly off of the UIC's nearly 8 years of experience conducting similar work through support from USDA’s partners in the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The team will be led by UIC and includes researchers from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity now at the University of Connecticut (Rudd Center) and Action for Healthy Kids (AFHK).
The overarching goal of the NWPS is to conduct the necessary state law and district wellness policy surveillance in order to examine the implementation of these laws and policies on schools and students nationwide, both from a quantitative and qualitative perspective. Key activities to be conducted include: (1) conducting “on-the-books” wellness and related policy collection for a nationally representative sample of districts that will be sampled for USDA’s planned School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS); (2) conducting primary legal research to obtain school wellness-related codified statutory and administrative (regulatory) laws for all 50 states; (3) conducting an in-depth analysis of the district policies and state laws using the UIC enhanced adaptation of the WellSAT coding tool; (4) conducting a quantitative evaluation of the implementation of the state laws and district policies on school-level implementation using the school level data from SNMCS; (5) examining the multi-level association between state laws, district policies, school level implementation and student outcomes (also obtained from SNMCS); (6) quantitatively examining the impact of state laws on school and classroom practices using CDC’s School Health Policies and Practices Study (SHPPS); (7) conducting focus groups with key stakeholders (including district officials, school administrators, food service managers, parents/PTA, students, community members, and athletics/booster groups) to understand barriers and facilitators to wellness and related policy implementation; and (8) developing a wide range of tailored end products for dissemination across stakeholder groups, policy researchers, and the scientific community. Fiscal Year 2016: No Current Data Available