Sarah Forrestal

Senior Survey Researcher
Areas of Expertise
  • Child nutrition and school meal programs
  • Questionnaire design
  • Data collection
  • Survey methodology
  • Virtual focus groups
  • Nutrition
  • Food Security and Hunger
  • Nutrition and Food Assistance Programs
About Sarah

Sarah Forrestal is an expert in maternal and child nutrition who specializes in the design, implementation, and analysis of surveys that study the impacts of food assistance programs.

Forrestal is the deputy survey director for the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). For this national evaluation, which is providing crucial information about the nutritional quality and cost of school meals, she oversaw data collection from schools, students, and parents, and leads analyses and reporting. In addition, she is the survey director for another FNS study that is evaluating the implementation, costs, and effectiveness of five innovative demonstration projects to end childhood hunger. Forrestal directed two USDA surveys on agencies’ policies and practices to promote breastfeeding in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, as well as state and district direct certification practices for the National School Lunch Program. 


Before joining Mathematica in 2010, Forrestal was at the University of Illinois, Chicago School of Public Health where she supervised data collection and analysis for a multimode, national survey of prenatal case management programs funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. She is a reviewer for the British Journal of Nutrition, the Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior, the Maternal and Child Health Journal, and Maternal & Child Nutrition. She holds a Ph.D. in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Key Projects
  • School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study (SNMCS)

    The School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study provides data on a broad array of topics, including critical information about the food and nutrient content of school meals, the costs of school meals, the food environments in schools, and the contribution of school meals to children's overall diets.