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Cafe Latino: A UF/IFAS Extension resource for Hispanics during COVID-19

MIAMI-DADE, Fla. – In 2017, a handful of extension faculty at UF/IFAS saw a need. The need would increase the knowledge and skills of extension faculty education to provide culturally relevant programs for the Hispanic and Latino populations.

From there a grassroots effort was born called Café Latino. Today, that grassroots effort services 67 counties with a growing coalition of 45 members to date that provides a series of programming, coordination of services, and dissemination of information where and when needed.

As COVID-19 grips the state, Café Latino is at the center of translating, disseminating, and connecting Hispanic and Latino residents with information, resources, and programming especially for non-English speaking residents to alleviate panic, prevent the spread of misinformation, and ultimately save lives.

“Café Latino is here to help in many ways,” said John Diaz, Café Latino president and UF/IFAS assistant professor and Extension specialist. “We saw a need to equip extension offices statewide with cultural competencies that would further connect the Hispanic and Latino population in Florida with resources, education, and training.”

Café Latino is an arm of the University of Florida located in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences that serves through UF/IFAS Extension. The team of bilingual faculty volunteers represents a range of expertise in agriculture, natural resources, 4-H youth development, lawn and garden, and more.

“Café Latino exists to promote cultural awareness, diversity, and inclusion,” he said. “At a time when we are in a health crisis, there is a need for dissemination of information in Spanish and that is culturally relevant. We are serving organizations and agencies with those cultural competencies and more.”

In order to remain relevant and serve the needs of Hispanic and Latino neighbors, UF/IFAS Extension is working to enhance the cultural competency of personnel and to design programming that reaches, engages, and benefits people across all cultures.

Since 2017, Café Latino has developed a series of strategies that range from coordinating translation services to developing training opportunities that promote cultural competency.

Among some of the most recent successful efforts and services that continue to date are:

  • Development and distribution of Spanish translations of COVID-19 materials as it relates to public safety and food safety for agriculture workers for a variety of organizations including UF/IFAS, manufacturing and distribution companies,
  • Forging direct connections between Latino, Hispanic communities, groups, and national and regional organizations such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, National 4-H, Florida Farm Bureau, to name a few,
  • Develop, translate and update educational materials for the Home Flow curriculum that provides home safety guidelines for first-time homebuyers,
  • Continuously develop videos that train the trainers in the community on hydroponic agriculture as an alternative for growers as the price of land increases in South Florida and across the state,
  • Fostered relationships with the Florida Department of Education and developed curriculum materials to benefit K-12 specifically designed to enhance and train agriculture teachers on building hydroponic curriculum led by Café Latino members with expertise in agriculture.

To connect with Café Latino, several communication channels have been developed:

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By: Lourdes Rodriguez, 954-577-6363 office, 954-242-8439 mobile, rodriguezl@ufl.edu

The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS)
is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make
that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than
a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty
in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS brings science-based solutions
to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents.

ifas.ufl.edu  @UF_IFAS

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