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Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) DP16-1607: Sodium Reduction in Communities Program

About 90% of Americans consume too much sodium, increasing their risk of high blood pressure. Americans consume about 3,400 mg of sodium each day, and the majority of sodium consumed is already present in foods before purchase or preparation. Because of this, reducing sodium intake requires increased availability of lower sodium foods.

Through the FOA, DP16-1607: Sodium Reduction in Communities Program, CDC anticipates awarding approximately $15 million over a five year period to implement and evaluate promising, broad-reaching, and sustainable strategies, while engaging food sector collaborators to facilitate reductions in sodium levels in commercially processed and restaurant foods. The long-term goal of the FOA is to reduce sodium intake to within the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations. Additional outcomes include:

  • Increased implementation of food service guidelines or standards that include sodium;
  • Increased integration of procurement practices to reduce sodium content in purchased items;
  • Increased implementation of food preparation practices to reduce sodium content in meals and/or menu items;
  • Increased implementation of environmental strategies/behavioral economics approaches;
  • Increased availability of lower sodium food products; and
  • Increased purchase or selection of lower sodium food products and/or ingredients by either consumers or large food service operators.

Applications are due March 15, 2016, and the five-year cooperative agreement’s anticipated start date is September 30, 2016. Eligibility will not be limited, but applicants should have demonstrated capacity to develop and implement public health strategies to improve nutrition, and capacity to reach at least 500,000 people. More information about the FOA and application requirements is available at www.grants.gov.

***Please note that CDC will host an Informational Teleconference to answer questions about the FOA at 3:30 PM (ET) on January 28th, 2016. Please join by calling Toll Number: 1-210-234-0044; or Toll Free Number: 888-810-4938; Participant passcode: 8344668.

For more information or to submit your questions, please contact xxm5@cdc.gov.

Q&As

If a state agency applies and plans to fund contractors (e.g. counties ,localities, non-profit organization) for interventions, does each contractor need to reach 5,000 people per day per venue OR do all the contractors combined need to reach 5,000 people per day?

Answer: Applicants may propose to work with multiple entities that serve and/or sell food within two selected venues, each venue with the potential for reaching at least 5,000 people per day. For this FOA:

  • “Venue” is defined as a type of setting (e.g. hospitals or senior meal programs)
  • “Entity” is defined as specific institutions/places within the venue (e.g. Hospital A, Hospital B, Hospital C; or Senior meal site A, senior meal site B, senior meal site C).

Note: Priority venues include: public and private sector worksites; public and private sector programs that purchase and provide food to congregate populations (e.g., senior meal programs, schools, early childhood education centers, programs that serve people in institutionalized settings, etc.); hospitals; and small regional chain restaurants. Applicants may propose to work in a venue beyond the priority venues listed but must provide sufficient justification for working in any other venue by describing the potential reach and impact, and evidence that supports working in this venue.

Priority will be placed on proposals that will reach the largest populations.

The FOA states that the grantee must demonstrate capacity to reach over 500,000 people. How does CDC recommend this 500,000 reach be calculated? Is it the total number of people that could be impacted by the interventions?

Answer: As part of Section C, titled “Organizational Capacity”, applicants must have demonstrated capacity to reach at least 500,000 people. The FOA does not define how this is calculated.  For more information, please refer to “Target Populations” section of the FOA.

How many entities will be funded?

Answer: The ceiling for individual award range is $500,000/year. The number of entities funded will depend on the amount of available funding and the number and types of applicants that compete successfully.

Will technical assistance be available regarding the FOA and the process to submit an application?

Answer: A technical assistance conference call will take place January 28, 2016 from 3:30- 5:00 PM U.S. Eastern Time.  At this time, the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) will review the FOA in detail for participants. Potential applicants may continue to ask questions of the Procurements and Grants Office (PGO) and DHDSP by submitting questions to Hadley Hickner (xxm5@cdc.gov).  Questions and Answers will be posted on the website at http://www.cdc.gov/salt/foa.htm. Technical assistance regarding electronic submissions will be provided by Grant solutions staff as needed.

I cannot attend the FOA conference call on January 28. Is there a way for me to access the recordings for these calls?

Answer:  No. This call will not be recorded. Questions and Answers from the call will be posted on the website at http://www.cdc.gov/salt/foa.htm.

Is there a template available for preparing the Letter of Intent (LOI)?

Answer:  No. A Letter of Intent is requested but optional for this FOA. The LOI must be postmarked by March 1, 2016. The LOI serves as a preliminary, non-binding indication of an organization’s intent to submit an application.

High blood pressure control is not specifically mentioned in the FOA. Will it count against an applicant if they include interventions related to high blood pressure as long as they address the required strategies?

Answer:  With funding through this FOA, applicants are asked to focus on population efforts to reduce sodium. It is acceptable to include high blood pressure control efforts as long as they align with the objectives and outcomes of this FOA.

Is cost sharing or matching required?

Answer:  Cost sharing or matching funds are not required for this program. Although there is no statutory match requirement for this FOA, leveraging other resources and related ongoing efforts to promote sustainability is strongly encouraged.

What is a cross site evaluation?

Answer:  A cross-site evaluation is an evaluation that looks across the funded sites to identify themes, patterns, achievements, and barriers. The purpose of a cross-site evaluation is not to compare funded communities against each other, but to identify common lessons across the communities while also recognizing that each community has unique characteristics and context. The cross-site evaluation of the funded sites will be primarily focused on outcomes and the extent to which the FOA-identified outcomes have been achieved. While implementation of lessons learned will also be included in the cross-site evaluation, process measures are not a primary focus for this FOA.

How much time does CDC Program provide to support awardees?

Answer:  CDC will provide substantial support and technical assistance to grantees.

How will applications be reviewed?

Answer:  All eligible applications will be initially reviewed for completeness by CDC’s Procurement and Grants Office (PGO) staff. In addition, eligible applicants will be jointly reviewed for responsiveness by CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and PGO. Non-responsive applications will not advance to the next phase of the review. Applicants will be notified that the application did not meet eligibility and/or published submission requirements. An objective review panel will evaluate complete and responsive applications according to the criteria listed in the Review and Selection Process section of the FOA. Applications will be funded in order by score and rank determined by the review panel. In addition, CDC reserves the right to fund applications out of rank order depending on the distribution of sodium reduction interventions across venues and the geographic distribution of the highest scoring applications. Priority will be placed on proposals that will reach the largest populations. CDC will notify applicants that are approved but unfunded and unapproved applicants during the same period when funded applicants are notified. Awardees will receive an electronic copy of the Notice of Award from CDC PGO. The NOA shall be the only binding, authorizing document between the awardee and CDC. Approved but unfunded applications remain valid for one year and may be funded if additional resources become available.

For the long term outcome measure (“reduce sodium intake”) is CDC expecting applicants to conduct dietary recalls with a sample of participants?

Answer:  CDC will work with awardees to operationalize the required outcome performance measures and assist with the identification of sound data collection approaches and/or the availability of existing data collection instruments.

Are existing SRCP grantees eligible to apply for continuation funding? Will existing SRCP grantees receive preference for funding?

Answer:  Current SRCP funding will end September 29, 2016. No continuation opportunity will be offered. The new SRCP (DP 13-1607) will be open to all eligible entities. Current SRCP grantees will have to apply according to the same criteria as all other applicants.

Can funds be used to buy equipment for a cafeteria or restaurant?

Answer:  In most cases, awardees may not use HHS/CDC/ATSDR funding for the purchase of furniture or equipment (pg. 31). Any such proposed spending must be clearly identified in the budget. Awardees will not be permitted to use funding under this FOA for purchasing kitchen equipment for a cafeteria or a restaurant.

Are territories eligible to apply for this FOA (DP 16-1607)?

Answer:  Eligible applicants include:

  • State governments (i.e. any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any agency or instrumentality thereof exclusive of local governments) 
  • County governments
  • City or township governments
  • Special district governments
  • Independent school districts
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
  • Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Nonprofits having a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • For profit organizations other than small businesses
  • Small businesses
  • Unrestricted (i.e., open to any type of entity above) subject to any clarification in text field entitled "Additional Information on Eligibility" of the FOA

When applying to work in congregate meal venues, should the applicant specify one of the examples provided in the FOA or leave it open to any one of the examples? For example, could an applicant plan to work with both senior meal programs and early child care education centers under the same venue of congregate meals?

Answer:  Each applicant should identify two venues and recruit specific entities under each venue.  Applicants may propose to work with entities that provide food to congregate populations generally and/or applicants may specific a particular congregate population with which to work. When determining which venues to select, we encourage applicant to consider the time and resources that it will take to address each venue. Each additional type of congregate meal program selected will likely require more time and resource investment to achieve and measure outcomes. 

The word “vendors” is used as an example for organizations/groups that represent the food sector. Can a “vendor” be a state-central procurement office if that office is responsible for establishing and managing contracts for other government departments?

Answer:  Applicant should provide justification for the collaboration with the selected food sector organization/group. The examples listed in the FOA are examples of potential food sector partners and do not represent an exhaustive list of groups. Applicants should provide letters of commitment to the project for the selected organizations/groups.

Small, regional chain restaurants are mentioned as a priority venue. Would a national chain that operates under a regional franchise count as national chain or small regional chain?

Answer:  If selecting a venue that is operated at national level, the applicant should provide an explanation of how decisions are made at individual or regional locations.  The intent is that the entities with which the applicant is proposing to work will have the authority to make changes at the local/entity level.

Can you clarify the reach as 5,000 vs. 500,000?

Answer:  The organization applying for the award must have the organizational capacity to reach 500,000. The applicant must specify two venues with entities that serve and/or sell food, reaching at least 5,000 people per day.  For more information on defining venues and entities, please see page 7 of the FOA.

If we work with a specific venue (e.g. the example given was poultry processing plants) does each plant count as a separate entity?

Answer:  For this FOA, a venue is defined as a type of setting (e.g. hospitals or senior meal programs) and entity is defined as specific institutions/places within the venue (e.g. Hospital A, Hospital B, Hospital C; or Senior meal site A, senior meal site B, senior meal site C). Applicants may propose to work in a venue beyond the priority venues listed on Page 7 of FOA but must provide sufficient justification for working in any other venue by describing the potential reach and impact, and evidence that supports working in this venue. Priority will be placed on proposals that will reach the largest populations.

Will awardees from last round be able to apply for the same geographic region?

Answer:  Current SRCP funding will end September 29, 2016. No continuation opportunity will be offered. The new SRCP (DP 13-1607) will be open to all eligible entities. Current SRCP grantees will have to apply according to the same criteria as all other applicants.

Is the federal negotiated indirect rate supplemental or included in the award amount?

Answer:  The indirect costs are a part of total award amount (total financial assistance).

You noted the Letter Of Intent (LOI) is not required. If submitted, will there be feedback?

Answer:  CDC will acknowledge receipt of Letters of Intent, but CDC will not provide any feedback on the letters. The Letters of Intent are used for planning purposes.

Does the FOA allow organizations to submit more than one application?

Answer:  Only one application per organization will be accepted.

Can an applicant team up with other organizations to submit an application?

Answer:  Nothing prohibits an organization from applying in coordination with another. However, one primary applicant (organization) of the multiple coordinating organizations is to submit an application for funding under the registrations of a DUNS number and SAM in Grants.gov. If awarded, actual performance of programmatic activities under a cooperative agreement (grant) is to be managed and administered by a primary awardee. Therefore, arrangements of sub-awardee or contractor relationships are necessary before submission of the application. An establishment of a consortium relationship is too late at this time for registration of DUNS number and SAM.

Are international organizations eligible to apply?

Answer:  International organizations do not fit under any eligibility category of the FOA (please see page 17 of the FOA for a complete list).

If an applicant plans to use local contractors to work with entities in 2 different venues, such as hospitals and senior meal sites, can the reach of these entities within one venue be combined to meet the required 5,000/day reach?

Answer:  Each venue should have the potential to reach 5,000/day across all sub-awardees. Priority will be placed on proposals that will reach the largest populations.

If a state is planning on working with sub-awardees in counties, does each county need to select one of the required (bolded) performance measures of each outcome or is it by state?

Answer:  The required performance measures are an aggregate for each awardee. Therefore, one required (bolded) performance measure should be selected across the primary awardee’s work plan, not necessarily in by each sub-awardee.

If a state agency plans to subcontract with counties, does each county need to demonstrate a capacity of 500,000?

Answer:  As part of the Project Description, section (c), titled “Organizational Capacity of Awardees to Implement the Approach”, applicants must have demonstrated capacity to reach at least 500,000 people. The FOA does not define how this is calculated. For more information, please refer to “Target Populations” section of the FOA.

It is specified that the Year-1 workplan needs to be detailed. What is expected for Years 2-5?

Answer:  In addition to the Year 1 detailed workplan, applicants must provide a high-level plan for subsequent years that describes an overall integrated approach to achieving sodium reduction. This plan does not need to include specific activities, but rather a general statement describing what the applicant expects to accomplish in subsequent years of the FOA. The optional workplan template provided includes a “narrative” section under each venue. High-level description of plans for the remainder of the FOA can be entered here.

About 120 days before the completion of the first year project, CDC will publish a guidance for Annual Progress Report (APR) in Grants.gov, which serves as a non-competing continuation application for the 2nd year. In this guidance, detailed guidance will be provided for required level of detailed work-plans for year 2 as well as reporting of the actual progress made in the proposed/approved work plans in the year 1.

A required performance measure is to be selected for each outcome area. Does the “outcome area” mean? For example: is it one performance measure for all short term outcomes or does it mean one performance measure per each different short term outcome?

Answer:  At least 1 required (bolded) performance measure should be identified for each individual, corresponding outcome in all levels (short term, intermediate, and long term).

In the venue of congregate meals, can an applicant mix senior meals, ECEs etc. to get to 5,000/day capacity?

Answer:  The FOA does not describe that an applicant is limited to a particular congregate population with which to work. We encourage the applicant to consider the time and resources that it will take to address each venue and entities within that venue. Each additional type of congregate meal program selected will likely require more time and resource investment to achieve and measured outcomes. A written justification for selecting venues and entities should be provided. Priority will be placed on proposals that will reach the largest populations.

Are hospitals considered congregate meal programs?

Answer:  In the FOA, hospitals are listed as a separate venue. Work with hospitals should primary focus on retail settings to avoid confliction or infringement on medically prescribed therapeutic patient meals. For this reason, we suggest considering hospitals as a separate venue; however, applicants could make a case for including hospitals as congregate meal sites.

What are the anticipated award amounts?

Answer:  The award ceiling $500,000/budget period. The award floor is $300,000/budget period.

Would a local GSA facility be an eligible partner?

Answer:  Applicants are expected to work with organizations that have a role in achieving the FOA outcomes, specifically: 1) at least two types of venues that serve and/or sell food, reaching at least 5,000 people per day and 2) at least one organization/group that is a part of or that represents some component of the food sector (e.g. vendors, suppliers, and/or related trade association affiliates).

Do independent grocery stores and corner stores count as a food sector organization? Is there a list of potential food sector organizations CDC is prioritizing to work with?

Answer:  An applicant may collaborate with any organization or group that represents some component of the food sector that may facilitate reductions in sodium levels of commercially processed and restaurant foods offered or sold by the applicant’s selected venues. The applicant should specifically describe how they will collaborate with that organization(s) while implementing and evaluating expansive and sustainable intervention strategies in venues that serve large populations. A non-exhaustive list of food sector organization/group examples, noted in the FOA include: vendors, suppliers, or other related trade association affiliates.

Is there a cap on indirect costs?

Answer:  There is no cap on the indirect cost rate, which is negotiated with a cognizant Federal agency. Accordingly, there is no cap on indirect costs. Total Indirect Costs should be included in the Budget Narrative. If requesting indirect costs in the budget, a copy of the indirect cost-rate agreement is required. If the indirect costs are requested, include a copy of the current negotiated federal indirect cost rate agreement or a cost allocation plan approval letter for those grantees under such a plan.

Will travel to Atlanta to meet with CDC be required? If so, should we budget for this for each year of the 5 years and who will be expected to attend from each grant?

Answer:  All applicants should include a propose budget for travel for at least two representatives to attend a CDC-sponsored meeting (not to exceed three days) related to the strategies being implemented as part of this FOA. CDC will provide guidance for additional meetings in subsequent continuation applications as necessary.

If we wanted to pilot a new contracting model for fresh fruit and vegetable purchasing for city departments implementing nutrition standards, could grant funds be used for that contract? In other words, could the grant pay for a food contract, provided that the act of setting the specifications and requirements for the contract would be setting up a new long term procurement practice for the City?

Answer:  Costs for a food contract and procurement of equipment are allowable costs if the procurements of foods and equipment are necessary for achieving the goals and purpose of project under the FOA and if the costs are allowable, reasonable, and allocable in accordance with USG Code of Federal Regulations (see 45CFR75, Subpart E). When determining whether or not proposed activities are in line with the FOA outcomes (see page 6 of the FOA), applicants should first answer the 4 questions on page 10 of the FOA. Applicants must also propose at least one measure in bold for each outcome area in which the applicant is working (refer to pages 10-12 for outcome areas and respective performance measures).

I know that traditionally equipment is also not allowed. Would this include the purchase of refrigeration or display baskets/materials for shelters and/or home cooking mini kits for residents transitioning out of the shelter?

Answer:  Generally, awardees may not use funds to purchase furniture or equipment. Any such proposed spending must be clearly identified in the budget. Applicants must consider whether the proposed spending is necessary to achieve the purpose and outcomes under the FOA and that costs are reasonable and consistent with the program strategy outlined in the project narrative of the FOA.

Would CDC fund a program working with a food distributor in the reformulation of foods if the evaluation could not be identified at the consumer level?

Answer:  If proposed activities are in line with the intent of the FOA and will allow the applicant to achieve the outcomes identified in the FOA, the application and activities will be considered and scored according to the objective review criteria located on pages 30-33 of the FOA.

Further, the Evaluation and Performance Measurement Plan does not specify the level that data collection should occur. The applicant should be able to address the 4 evaluation questions listed on page 10 of the FOA and should propose at least one performance measure in bold for each outcome area in which the applicant is proposing to work (pg. 10-12).

CDC will work with awardees to operationalize the required outcome performance measures and assist with the identification of sound data collection approaches and/or the availability of existing data collection instruments. Applicants may propose additional outcome measures than those listed above. Applicants must provide a rationale for proposing measures that are not included.

Can for-profit organizations serve as food sector partners and be sub-contracted to receive funding to support workplan activities?

Answer:  An applicant may propose to work with non-federal, profit or non-profit contractual organization(s). These contracts must be specified in the application and the organization must significantly contribute to the implementation of program strategies and achievement of project outcomes. The grantee must procure its contractor in accordance with its own established procurement policies, which are in compliance with USG Code of Federal Regulations (see 45CFR75, subpart D, section 326-335, Procurement Standards). Therefore, if in compliance, the grantee can procure goods and services from a for-profit organization. Please note that food/meal costs are allowable if they are necessary for programmatic purposes.

As indicated in the FOA’s project description, applicants will also be required to work with at least one organization/group that is a part of or that represents some component of the food sector (e.g. vendors, suppliers, and/or related trade association affiliates). The FOA does not prohibit an organization from serving as both a contractor to implement the approach and a food sector partner with which the applicant will collaborate.

What is the expected commitment and/or role for the food sector organization/group partner? Are there specific outcomes that CDC is expecting related to this partner to include in our letter of commitment?

Answer:  Applicants should provide letters of support from partners that detail their commitment to the selected strategies and to achieving the selected outcomes. The specific expectation, role and/or level of commitment outlined in the letter should be based on the outcomes identified in the applicant’s application and negotiated between the applicant and the partner considering each organization’s priorities. Letters of support/commitment can be included as Appendices.

If our community feels that we can handle working with 3 venues, is this allowable? Or, is CDC only accepting applications to reach 2 venues? We are trying to respond to community needs and 3 venues will fit best for us.

Answer:  With the funding through this FOA, applicants are asked to focus on two venues. An applicant may propose work with three venues as long as efforts align with the objectives and outcomes of the FOA, but should consider the time and resources it will take to address each venue.

Is the Sodium Reduction in Communities cooperative agreement funded with ACA funds?

Answer:  No. For FY 2016, The Sodium Reduction in Communities Program is funded with basic budget authority funds.

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