On Milk: One Percent, Two Percent, Red Cap, Blue cap?


Remember that classic Dr. Seuss book, “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish?” It’s a whimsical, if a bit non-sensical, tale about near endless variety. It’s a stretch to say that there are near endless varieties of milk to choose from, but the title of Seuss’ book makes me think of the varieties of milk available on the market. One percent or two percent? Red cap or blue cap? Non-fat or low fat? What’s the difference? And (since we’re concerned with early childhood here), which type of milk should little kids of different ages drink? Here’s some info that may make it clearer:

Milk is a vital component of a child’s diet. It provides many important nutrients like protein, calcium, and potassium. Experts agree that for children under one year of age, breast milk is best. From the age of 1 to 2, if a child is no longer breastfed, she or he should drink whole milk and water. After age 2, children need less fat in their diets. Serving lower fat milk is an easy way to reduce fat and keep all the good nutrition provided by milk. Non-fat and low-fat milk (1% or lower) are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for all children over 2 years old.

The table below clarifies the nutrient content of 1 serving of milk (1 cup) in four different fat contents (whole, reduced, low-fat, and fat free) with the emphasis on total fat, protein, calcium, and calories. Low-fat milk has the same amount of calcium, protein, vitamins and minerals in comparison to whole milk. It also has less fat and fewer calories than whole milk while keeping the same great taste. Whole milk is high in saturated fat. Diets with high saturated fat are known to have health implications like raising cholesterol levels and, in turn, increasing one’s risk for coronary heart disease.


Hope this helps clarify some of the differences between various types of milk. The short story: for two-year-olds and older provide 1% or non-fat milk.

Stay tuned for a blog post on flavored and sweetened milks.

Reviewed by: Kitty Lenhart, MEd, RD of Contra Costa Child Care Council and John Muir Health. Thanks Kitty!

Photo credits: http://www.healthyeating.org/Milk-Dairy.aspx

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Partner Spotlight: Mt. Diablo CARES Afterschool Program

image (3)Thanks to a new healthy policy passed by a Mt. Diablo Unified School district’s Afterschool Program, over 275 kindergarteners across Central and East Contra Costa County are ensured quality opportunities for healthy eating and active play. This past fall, Mt. Diablo CARES (Collaborative for Academics Recreation and Enrichment for Students) adopted a comprehensive wellness policy that ensures the program will provide quality healthy eating, active living programming to all students, families, and communities that the program serves. Program-wide the policy reaches 2,100 students grades K-12 at 15 school sites in Bay Point, Concord and Pleasant Hill.

image (1)Through the passage of this policy, Mt. Diablo CARES staff have demonstrated their commitment to serving as positive role models and promoting healthier eating habits among youth and families. For example, it has become a part of their program culture to ensure that only healthy foods and beverages are provided at meetings and events. “The impact of the policy has been very positive with staff, students, and parents,” remarked Rosa Palomino, Nutrition Coordinator. “The children look forward to the activities and are excited to take it back home to their families.”

WA 1Through the policy, staff offer students a comprehensive curriculum focused on healthy eating and physical activity promotion. At school events, students showcase the importance of nutrition and healthy eating by having a Re-Think Your Drink station where students and parents learn about the health harming effects of sugary beverages and sample a variety of fruits water recipes. Students also have a garden—a teaching tool that helps students make the seed-to-table connection. Each day after school, all participating students receive a healthy snack that consists of fat-free or reduced-fat milk, fruit, and crackers. Before the students head home for the evening, they receive a healthy supper. Mt. Diablo CARES also provides a minimum of 30 minutes a day and up to 60 minutes per day of structured physical activity using pre-approved CATCH & SPARKS physical education curriculum. The program provides indoor and outdoor area for movement and play equipment and music that encourages physical activity.

SA PLAY2HAB45 congratulates Mt. Diablo CARES Afterschool Program, and the 19 Contra Costa partners that passed healthy policies in 2014. Together, we’re making Contra Costa a healthier place for young children and their families.


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Snapshot of Success

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It was a busy and productive year for Healthy & Active Before 5. Take a look at some of our latest accomplishments:

1. We inspired 11 Contra Costa organizations to pass healthy policies:

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Congratulations to all the organizations that passed healthy policies this year. Thank you for sharing our vision and continually supporting our efforts to create healthier communities. Take a look at our Policy Library to see the full list organizations that have passed healthy policies, including links to the policies they’ve passed.

2. We distributed nearly 3,000 maps to childcare providers in the Contra Costa County.

With assistance from Child Care Council nutrition staff, we distributed PittsburgAntioch, and Bay Point Plan to Play brochures to childcare providers and low-income families across East County. The maps highlight parent approved parks and provide important information about park locations and park features.

3. We achieved our goal to train 20 promotoras in the Monument Community in breastfeeding peer-support.

HAB45 provided a training series for Spanish-speaking community health advocates or promotoras on providing peer-counseling to breastfeeding mothers, primarily in Concord’s Monument neighborhood. These promotoras are now trained and ready to make a difference within the Contra Costa County community.

4. We evaluated 60 parks and playspaces in East Contra Costa County, in partnership with East County Regional Group (ECRG) sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa.

5. We shared information, ideas, and resources on preventing childhood obesity with over 50 Contra Costa agencies.

We successfully convened 2 Leadership Council meetings that took place in September 2013 and April 2014. At the September 2013 meeting, we highlighted the “Sugar Bites” campaign and debuted two new healthy sample policies: Tap Water Promotion and Reducing Unhealthy Marketing. At the April 2014, we provided a training on advocacy and lobbying rules for non-profits, presented by Alliance for Justice. We also introduced HAB45’s public policy agenda, and celebrated 6 organizations new healthy policies.

6. We developed 2 new model worksite policies: Tap Water Promotion and Reducing Unhealthy Marketing to Kids.

Providing tap water to young children is an environmentally friendly way to promote health and help prevent early childhood obesity. We believe children have a right to a healthy childhood, free from marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages. Organizations can ensure all children have a healthy start in life by adopting practices and policies that reduce marketing to children.

We are looking forward to this year’s endeavors, so stay tuned for updates!

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10 Things That Make a Great Park: Part II

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Lucas Park, Richmond, CA

In Part I of “10 Things That Make a Great Park” HAB45 presented our vision for equitable parks and 5 key characteristics that make a great park for young children and their families: safety, innovative play equipment, seating, restrooms, and water fountains. Today we’re bringing you Part II of our “Great Park” series, where we highlight 5 more “great park” criteria that are part of our vision for healthy, equitable parks.

maintenance Keeping a park clean and well-maintained makes the park an appealing place to spend time and be physically active, and it can increase safety. While every park user can do her part to keep the park clean, it is the ultimately responsibility of the city where the park is located to ensure that parks are in good working order. A well-maintained park attracts families with young children and shows community members that the park is being cared for. Timely upkeep of trash removal, landscape maintenance, and equipment repairs are all important parts of keeping parks safe, clean, and pleasant public spaces.


In Contra Costa County, summers can get scorching hot, which calls for some sun protection. Wearing sunscreen and a sunhat and drinking plenty of water are all great first lines of defense. But without shade, it can become unbearable for folks to play outside. Shade keeps everyone out of the sun’s harmful UV rays. The presence of shade structures, shade sails, umbrellas, and trees help provide cooler areas for parents, breastfeeding mothers, and little kids to relax and escape the heat.


Little kids love to run around and get their wiggles out (and it’s healthy for them to do so). That’s why sports fields made our list. Sports fields like basketball courts, baseball diamonds, and soccer fields are all great places for kids to get some cardio in while learning how to take turns and cooperate with other kids. These group activities will never go out of style. Also, when not in use for team sports, these fields offer a great place for little kids to engage in unstructured, active play.

Federal law requires public spaces to be accessible to people with disabilities. A park that is compliant with the American with Disabilities Act standards, is a park where all children can play and be kids. Ground level play structures, ramps, and surfacing are important factors for creating an accessible play environment.

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Photo of Elm Playlot in Richmond, CA. Learn more about this and other great parks in Richmond at Pogopark.org. Pogo park is an entrepreneurial community-based nonprofit in Richmond, dedicated to building better parks and playspaces for children and healthier communities in this country’s most underserved neighborhoods.

Fenced in playspaces or “tot lots” are a great park features for families with young children. When a playspace is fenced in, parents have less to worry about, so they can relax and enjoy the park too. A fence or gate provides protection against busy streets and other potential hazards around the park by preventing little kids wandering out of the play area out of sight of their parents.

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That concludes our two part series, “10 Things That Make a Great Park” (see Part I here). Keep in mind that these are HAB45’s top “great park” criteria. If there are other park features that are important to you that we haven’t captured here, we want to hear about it. Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Photo credits: 6. http://fischersfinds.com/georgia-hanford-park-a-park-located-off-the-beaten-path-in-mason-city-iowa/ 7. http://www.shade-n-net.com/shade-structures/recreational/dog-parks/ 8. https://www.sammamish.us/News.aspx?ID=511 9. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/06/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/06Rplayground.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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