Human Services

Sarah Forrestal

Principal Researcher
Name Pronunciation SAIR-uh FOR-a-stall
Pronouns she/her

Sarah Forrestal’s work focuses on programs targeting children and youth, including school meals, WIC, Head Start, and pregnancy prevention programs. She is an expert in designing and implementing data collection activities, especially for large, complex projects.

Forrestal is the survey director for the School Nutrition and Meal Cost Study-II (SNMCS-II), which is being conducted for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). This national study will provide crucial information about food service operations, the nutritional quality and cost of school meals and snacks, and students’ participation, satisfaction, and dietary intakes. The study includes numerous data collection activities, including web and telephone surveys, face-to-face interviews, dietary recalls, height and weight measurements, and school environment observations. She also led a feasibility study that will lead to the inclusion of five states and territories in the rigorous meal cost study component by adapting in-person instruments to remote administration. She is also the survey director for the Study of Nutrition and Activity in Child Care Settings-II, which is also being conducted for FNS. The study is similar in size and scope to SNMCS-II, but will be conducted in a variety of child care settings including Head Start and other child care centers, family day care homes, and before and after school programs. Forrestal was 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 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 supervised data collection and analysis for a multimode, national survey of prenatal case management programs funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Forrestal is a member of the American Association for Public Opinion Research. She holds a Ph.D. in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

  • Questionnaire design
  • Survey methodology
  • Nutrition assistance programs
  • Large, complex data collections
Focus Area Topics
  • Nutrition
  • Nutrition and Food Assistance Programs
  • Food Security and Hunger
  • Early Childhood
  • Family Support
  • Human Services

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