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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA’s) Economic Research Service (ERS), in collaboration with USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), invites proposals for a competitive grant to establish and fund a USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. The USDA Center will facilitate new and innovative research on the application of behavioral economics theory to healthy food choice behaviors that would contribute to enhancing the nutrition, food security, and health of American consumers. The USDA Center will complement the work currently being conducted by the USDA-funded Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (Cornell BEN Center). With the exception of work that would be duplicative of the Cornell BEN Center, all food choice behavioral factors that are relevant to USDA policy issues will be within the scope of the USDA Center for Behavioral Economics and Healthy Food Choice Research. There is, however, a requirement that the USDA Center shall devote a substantial portion of its efforts to factors that would facilitate healthy and cost-effective food choices by participants in (a) the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and (b) the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). The USDA Center will be expected to (1) establish an innovative research program on behavioral economics and healthy food choice that addresses questions of public policy interest and importance; (2) broaden the network of social scientists who participate in research that applies principles and theories of behavioral economics to the study of healthy food choice behaviors that will lead to improvement of nutrition, food security, and health outcomes; and (3) disseminate information obtained via its research program to a diverse stakeholder audience, including other researchers, policy and program officials, and the general public. We anticipate that up to $1.9 million will be available in fiscal year 2014 to support this activity over the next 3 years. And, subject to availability of funds and the viability of USDA Center expansion, additional funds may be available in subsequent years. This publication describes USDA Center responsibilities and application requirements. The deadline for submission of applications is June 30, 2014.


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