Sarah Forrestal

Principal Researcher
  • Nutrition assistance programs
  • Survey methodology
  • Questionnaire design
  • Semi-structured interviews
  • Virtual focus groups
  • Web surveys
  • Establishment surveys
  • Dietary recalls
  • Adolescent health
  • Teen pregnancy prevention programs
Focus Areas
  • Family Support
  • Nutrition
  • Food Security and Hunger
  • Nutrition and Food Assistance Programs
  • Human Services
About Sarah

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

Forrestal is the survey director of the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study-II for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service. For this national study, which provides crucial information about the nutritional quality and cost of school meals, she will oversee data collection from districts and school staff, students, and parents. The study will include a number of data activities, including web and telephone surveys, face-to-face interviews, dietary recalls, and observations to collect data on the school food environment; the nutritional quality of school meals; the costs to produce meals; and students’ participation, satisfaction, and dietary intakes. She also currently leads an assessment of five states and territories to determine the feasibility of their inclusion in the rigorous cost study. She was the survey director for the Evaluation of Demonstration Projects to End Childhood Hunger for the Food and Nutrition Service, which is evaluating the implementation, costs, and effectiveness of four innovative demonstration projects to end childhood hunger. For this evaluation, she oversaw three rounds of telephone interviews of more than 20,000 households to measure impacts on food security and other outcomes. Forrestal is the deputy survey director of the Personal Responsibility Education Program Project’s Youth Empowerment IDEAS Surveys of Parents and Youth, contributing to the design of two surveys to be fielded to parents, youth, and young adults to collect information on attitudes and beliefs about youth sexual behaviors, parent–child relationships, and sex education. The IDEAS surveys build upon her previous work designing surveys for impact evaluations of teen pregnancy and parenting programs.

Before joining Mathematica in 2010, Forrestal was at the University of Illinois at 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 holds a Ph.D. in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Key Projects
  • The 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.

  • School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study IV (SNDA IV)

    Mathematica's SNDA-IV study examined the nutritional quality of meals and snacks offered and served to children in the NSLP and SBP. The study also assessed other issues related to school food environments and meal service operations, including policies about and availability of competitive foods (foods...

  • PCORI Dissemination and Implementation Framework and Toolkit

    Recognizing the need for strategies to accelerate the sharing of research (dissemination) and to help put it into practice (implementation), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute commissioned the development of a Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Framework and D&I Toolkit.

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