Webinar + Q and A

Below is a recording of an informational webinar that took place on Thursday, December 17th regarding details of the grants for food security measurement research. Please watch if you have interest in submitting a proposal.

Question and Answer

What evidence of support should be provided from the applicant institution? (New, Feb 2, 2021)

The RFP states: “Applicant organizations must be accredited private or public institutions of higher education or non-profit research organizations…. Awards will be made directly to the principal investigator’s institution.” Universities and non-profit research organizations typically have their own internal rules for submitting proposals for external funding. Please work with your institution’s sponsored research or grants office to obtain the appropriate review and approvals prior to submitting your proposal. You may attach a letter from your institution (and, if you do so, it will not count toward any page limit).

Which topics should proposals focus on?

The RFP invites proposals “related to the past 25 years of U.S. household food security research and ideas for feasible evidence-based improvements looking forward.” Topics include food security measurement, applications, and improvements to methods. The RFP lists examples of priority topic areas, but proposals in other areas are welcome.

What aspects of proposals are considered for eligibility?

The RFP has a section on “eligibility” and provides a rubric that will be used in evaluating proposals. Proposals should address food security measurement methods that may be reasonably implemented for government use.  

What are some examples of topics that utilize new data collection?

The RFP describes two “types of studies”: 

  • Proposals with budgets of up to $100k including mixed methods approaches, new collection of qualitative data or cognitive testing data.
  • Proposals with budgets of up to $50k including new analysis of secondary data, meta-analysis, or analyses of particular specialized topics in food security measurement. For the smaller proposals, applications by Ph.D. students or postdoctoral researchers are welcomed, with budgets of $10k to $50k as suitable for the proposed work.

Under the first type, describing new data collection, qualitative data might include cognitive assessment of survey questions or data that captures the experience of food insecurity for respondents. New models that allow for flexibility in measurement or collection are encouraged as well.

Should proposals consider COVID-19 protocols when suggesting primary data collection?

Yes. Many U.S. research programs this year are modifying IRB applications to use virtual communication in place of in-person interviews. The state of the pandemic in the United States is unpredictable. Proposals should anticipate IRB procedures and be robust to different likely outcomes for the state of COVID-19 or other future circumstances.

What is the limit on the total cost of the proposal?

Proposals should have a maximum total budget of $100k or $50K, depending on the scale of the proposal. The maximum includes indirect costs. USDA has requested the indirect cost rate be 40% of the direct costs, or the federally approved rate of the applicant’s institution, whichever is lower. Graduate student stipends are an allowed cost.

Are institutional partnerships and cost-sharing allowed?

Proposals with more than one institution are permitted. One institution must be the prime grantee, responsible for completion. The proposal should provide evidence that any partnership is realistic.

Regarding cost-sharing, it is permitted to describe in a proposal or budget justification how the proposal will leverage additional available resources. We do not anticipate that budgets formally include cost-sharing. If an applicant has a reason why cost-sharing should appear formally in a budget, please contact us in advance by email so we can prepare to review this correctly.

Will proposals be required to apply to the journal special issue?

Generally, we expected that every grantee would submit a manuscript to a special issue of a journal, following presentation at a national conference in Spring 2022. Proposals with the opportunity for publication in a different journal (for example a highly competitive journal) may describe a reasonable plan for which results would be submitted to the special issue and which results would be submitted to a different publication.