School Wellness Policy Cooperative Agreement


The Local Wellness Policy Surveillance System allows us to monitor, collect, and analyze state law and local district policy data and their effects on the implementation of NSLA legislation and rules and student health outcomes. Through this competitive cooperative agreement, the University of Illinois has developed a national-level surveillance system that addresses the previous gaps in surveillance by federally and non-federally funded systems and surveys. Three major federal-level surveillance systems and surveys were in place at the time this agreement was awarded; each was expected to continue for at least another 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 is able to 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.SNDA-V was administered as the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS) in SY 2014-2015 and includes 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. 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 2014, SHPPS collected school- and classroom-level data, and in the following cycle (2016) it collected district-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 requires 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 provides a national-level surveillance system that addresses the most important gaps in the coverage of the existing school wellness policy surveillance systems and surveys by: - linking 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; - conducting a nationwide evaluation of the scope of ?on-the-books? (enacted) school district wellness policies and related state laws; - collecting and analyzing qualitative data that can explore the implementation of and compliance with NSLA policies across various stakeholders (e.g., administrators, school food authorities, parents, children, etc.); and - developing and disseminating 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.

General information about this opportunity
Last Known Status
Deleted 03/27/2024 (Archived.)
Program Number
Federal Agency/Office
Food and Nutrition Service, Department of Agriculture
Type(s) of Assistance Offered
B - Project Grants
Program Accomplishments
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. The awardee has collected and coded school wellness policies at the state and district level. The policies are currently being coded for strength and comprehensiveness. The grantee will begin examining the multi-level association between state laws, district policies, school level implementation and student outcomes by linking the policy date with data from FNS's School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS). The awardee has conducted qualitative interviews with school food service directors and students and has scheduled focus groups with superintendents for the Spring of 2017.
Fiscal Year 2016 The awardee will continue its activities.
Fiscal Year 2018 Five manuscripts produced under this cooperative agreement were published and 11 presentations were delivered.
Fiscal Year 2019 Two manuscripts were published and several more were submitted for peer-review and publication. Eight presentations were delivered.
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?
Applicant Eligibility
Beneficiary Eligibility
Not applicable.
What is the process for applying and being award this assistance?
Pre-Application Procedure
Preapplication coordination is not applicable.
Application Procedure
This program is excluded from coverage under 2 CFR 200, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards.
Award Procedure
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 location, as appropriate for application deadlines
Approval/Disapproval Decision Time
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
Not applicable.
How are proposals selected?
Scoring for Grant Applications Need, Readiness and Likelihood of Success 25 points o 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 o 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 o 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). o 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 Transferability 10 points Budget Plan 10 points o The total funding amount requested is appropriate for the scope of the project. o 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?
Performance Reports: See RFA
Not applicable.
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 formula is not applicable to this assistance listing.

Matching requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.

MOE requirements are not applicable to this assistance listing.
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
None/Not specified.
Headquarters Office
Holly Figueroa
3101 Park Center Dr.
Alexandria, VA 22302 US
Phone: 7033052105
Financial Information
Account Identification
(Cooperative Agreements) FY 18$321,423.00; FY 19 est $285,205.00; FY 20 est $0.00; FY 17$549,318.00; - These amounts represent the amount drawn down each year, not new obligations. All funds were obligated in FY15.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Award amount = $1,699,985
Regulations, Guidelines and Literature
Not applicable.
Examples of Funded Projects
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. The awardee will continue the project activities outlined above.


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