Food and Health Research Using the Consumer Food Data System

Funding Agency:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) recognizes that the health of our nation depends upon the health and well-being of our children and families. RWJF believes that all families—no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they make—should have the resources they need to foster healthy development from their children’s earliest years.

RWJF has widened its focus on childhood obesity to consider issues such as nutritional adequacy; upstream factors affecting food supply; nutritional assistance; and indicators of food quality and availability. To contribute to research, evaluation, and learning, especially for its healthy children and families focus area, RWJF is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service (ERS) on an opportunity to make their valuable data on food and nutrition available to researchers. By doing so, we hope to support research that will help to overcome structural barriers to equitable access to healthy food.

As the agency within the USDA that anticipates trends and emerging issues in agriculture, food, the environment, and rural America, ERS conducts high-quality, objective economic research to inform and enhance public and private decision-making. ERS has acquired several food-related data, both restricted- and private-use assets, which comprise the Consumer Food Data System (CFDS). These data assets will support research on relevant and timely evidence that informs the USDA, Congress, and the public about the food sector and about key national issues regarding food and health—such as food insecurity, obesity, diet quality, and nutrition assistance programs.

RWJF and ERS are announcing a call for proposals (CFP) for researchers who will use one or more restricted-use data assets from the CFDS. We seek to develop a cohort of researchers from diverse academic disciplines and institutions who will produce policy-relevant research on food policy; food retail markets; consumer behaviors related to food purchases and diet; and USDA nutrition assistance programs. It is our hope that the resulting research evidence will inform RWJF’s goal of creating equitable access to nutritious food.

Deadline for Brief Proposals: May 16, 2022

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

  • Researchers applying for funding from this CFP are required to submit proposals making use of one (or more) of the restricted-use data assets listed in the USDA’s Consumer Food Data System (CFDS; see Appendix A in the Call for Proposals).
  • Proposals for research involving multiple CFDS data assets conjointly are allowed and encouraged. A researcher may also import non-CFDS data into ADRF to conduct the research supported by an award. However, researchers must obtain and provide evidence that owners of the data to be imported permit linking their data as proposed.
  • To be eligible for an award, research supported by this CFP must be for research or statistical purposes, in contrast to regulatory or law enforcement purposes. The research must use at least one of the restricted-use CFDS data assets from the list provided below (see Appendix A for further details).
  • To be eligible for an award, researchers must be affiliated with U.S. academic organizations that are either institutes of higher education, public entities, or nonprofits that are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and are not private foundations or Type III supporting organizations.
  • Projects that already have funding are not eligible for funding under this CFP for the same work. Researchers with funded projects may apply under this CFP for support for related research or an expanded project scope, accompanied by a clear explanation of how the work supported by this CFP relates to work that is already funded.
  • Additional criteria apply to FSRDC researchers and ADRF researchers, as described in Appendix B and Appendix C in the Call for Proposals, respectively.

Amount Description

  • The total award will be up to $100,000 per project. Multiple researchers are allowed on a project, dividing the award.

    • Funding for FSRDC data access fees will also be provided.
    • ADRF data access fees have already been covered by ERS prior to this CFP.
  • Approximately 12 to 15 projects will receive awards.
  • The duration of awards will be up to 27 months, from November 2022 to February 2025.
    • Awards for researchers who need to apply for and receive Special Sworn Status (SSS; see Appendix B in the Call for Proposals) will be shorter (approximately 24 months) to allow for this process; receipt of SSS is a requirement for these awards to be finalized.

Funding Type





Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

May 16, 2022