Center Co-Directors: David R. Just and Brian Wansink
The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (the B.E.N. Center) is pleased to announce a new award program to support research involving the possible applications of behavioral economics to the improvement of the food choices American children make at school as participants in USDA's National School Lunch Program. The Center has $150,000 in available funds and will support 5-12 proposals ranging from $5,000-$40,000. Proposals will undergo a rigorous review process by center staff and other invited peer reviewers. Proposals will be scored based upon academic rigor, relevancy, innovation and applicability, and demonstrated ability to complete the proposed project. Although secondary data studies will be considered, innovative and feasible field experiments will be given priority.
Proposal Submission and Selection Schedule:
A short letter of intent will be due by 12:00am (midnight) on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014. Invited applicants will be notified by Monday, February 3rd, 2014. Invited full proposals will be due by Monday, March 17th, 2014 with projects beginning no earlier than June 2nd, 2014. Proposals selected for funding will be notified by Monday, April 21st , 2014. (Details below)
With more than 31 million children served each school day, USDA-sponsored school meals provide an important opportunity to improve diet and health. Behavioral economics offers a way to encourage healthier behavior without inducing the resistance and reactance often associated with restrictive policies (Just and Wansink 2009). Rather, behavioral policies offer the potential of creating long lasting habits and attitudes. Schools can exert considerable control over the food choices they offer and the manner in which they are presented—the “choice architecture” in behavioral economic terms. Behavioral economic theory suggests several possibilities to structure school cafeteria environments in a non-coercive manner to encourage healthy choices. Examples of studies that have applied behavioral economic theory to food choice in cafeterias can be found on the Center website at www.ben.cornell.edu.
The goal of The B.E.N. Center Small Grants Program is to fund innovative research projects that apply the principles of behavioral economics to improving food choices
made by children at school as participants in the USDA Child Nutrition Programs.
During its first year, the grant program will focus on the National School Lunch Program.
Successful proposals will combine academic rigor with a strong foundation in behavioral
economics theory, reasonable methodology, and feasible policy or program relevance for
policy makers, food service professionals and other Federal, State, or local program staff.
Because the grants are intended to fund research, to be considered, proposals must be
submitted by (or in partnership with) faculty, senior research associates, post-doctoral
fellows or doctoral candidates at a higher educational institution. Doctoral candidates
must apply with their faculty advisor as a Co-PI on the proposal. If you do not fall within
these criteria and would still like to apply, please contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposals demonstrating ability to conduct research in a school setting will be given
Although secondary data studies and economic experiments in non-field settings
will be considered, innovative and feasible field experiments that have the potential
to produce applications that can be easily implemented at a low cost and on a large
scale will be given priority. Proposals that involve minority populations such as
Native American, Hispanic, or African American are encouraged. Proposals that
focus on schools serving a large proportion of low-income students (e.g. as
demonstrated by high receipt of free or reduced-price school lunches) are also
Scope of Research Funded Under This Announcement
The intent of this announcement is to support research that will apply behavioral
economics to the challenge of encouraging children participating in USDA’s National
School Lunch Program to make healthful food choices. Responsive proposals must
be based on behavioral economics theories and concepts. Proposals that are
primarily about nutrition science or food science—for example, developing a new
food product for school meals—are outside the scope of this announcement.
Similarly, development or delivery of nutrition education programs is outside the
scope of this announcement.
To be considered responsive, proposals must draw a clear link to application in the
USDA school meal program setting. Proposals that focus on changing food behavior
in settings outside of USDA school meal programs—for example, focusing on
changing food purchasing behavior at fast food restaurants or grocery stores—are
outside the scope of this announcement. Basic research with no clearly identified
link to children’s food behavior in the school meal setting is outside the scope of this
Letters of intent must be submitted by 12:00 AM (Midnight) on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014. Letters of intent (not to exceed 2 pages double space, Arial or Times New Roman font size 12 and 1 inch margins) should be sent in PDF form to email@example.com. The letter of intent should include a brief description of the proposed project including: the primary research question, methodology, qualifications of primary investigator and proposed relevance to child nutrition and school lunches. The letter of intent should not include budget information, but rather focus on the innovation of the research question and its relevance to school meal program needs. Full proposals will be invited based upon innovation, program and policy relevance, and possible applications of the proposed research. Submissions selected to submit full proposals will be notified by Monday February 3rd , 2014. Full Proposals will be due Monday March 17th, 2014.
Invited Full Proposals should include:
a. PI name & contact information
b. Organization & contact information
c. Authorized representative & contact information
d. Tax identification or Dun & Bradstreet Number
e. Funding amount requested
2.Abstract- overview (1 page, double spaced)
3.Project Narrative (7 pages, double spaced max.)
c. Research Design and Methodology
d. Potential for Implementation and Impact
e. Plan for disseminating research findings
4.Bibliography (1 page max.)
5.Two page NIH-style biosketch for PI and all senior investigators (can be found at www.grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/biosketchsample.doc )
8.Copy of an approved Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA)
10. Applicable Letters of Support (e.g., if research involves an intervention in a school lunch program, a letter of support from the school lunch director would be required.)
Project narrative should be double spaced. All documents should use 12 point font (arial or times new roman). All pages should have 1 inch margins. All full proposals must be approved and submitted by an Authorized University representative from the institutions Office of Sponsored Research or equivalent.. Proposals will not be accepted from individuals or from foreign institutions.
Full proposals should be submitted electronically in one PDF document to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 AM (Midnight) ET on March 17th, 2014
Deliverables and Requirements.
If a proposal is awarded, the primary investigator will be responsible for the following:
-1. Submitting a midterm report (or as requested)
-2. Submitting the Final Report that includes a policy brief based on results and a future dissemination plan
-3. Participation in the Healthy Food Choices in Schools Community of Practice (CoP)
-4. Participation in a Smarter Lunchrooms Seminar held (generally in late May) on the Cornell Campus. This may take the form of Video Conferencing, Poster Submission (in person attendance to be discussed) or an Invited In-Presentation. Travel or other costs associated with the participation in the Seminar to be handled separately from the research proposal.
Grants will be awarded in the amount of $5,000-40,000. Larger awards will be considered based upon the merit of the proposal. Indirect costs are limited to the lesser of 15% of direct costs or the institutions approved rate per their Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement. Total awards, including indirect costs, will not exceed $40,000. The small grants program is considered federal flow-through and will be subject to the same spending restrictions and regulations as all federal grants. (A-110 – Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals and Other Non-Profit Organizations and A-21 – Cost Principles for Educational Institutions). The Center reserves the right to suggest changes to proposed budgets before awarding the proposals.
Review of Applications and Evaluation Criteria
Prior to technical examination, a preliminary review of all proposals will be made. Proposals that do not meet eligibility requirements or fall within the scope of this announcement will be notified.
Proposals will be evaluated by review panels consisting of economists, nutritionists, and food service professionals. In addition to reviewers’ comments, the Center will consult with experts from USDA’s Economic Research Service and Food and Nutrition Service. Final selections will be based on reviewers’ evaluations, priority policy and program needs, and overlap among proposals.