Editorial Cartoon

We’re still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. Despite the fact that we’re in the beginning stages of reopening our economy, we still have a long way to go before we can declare, “Mission accomplished.”

While we continue to battle the virus from a research standpoint, we’re also trying to figure out how we’ll right the ship of our economy and culture after a storm of this magnitude.

Make no mistake, we will come out the other side of this. The only question is will we come out the other side worse for wear or seizing upon the new opportunities, can we rebuild in a way that makes life better than it was before this disease reared its ugly head?

The main key to answering that is to determine how far outside the box are we willing to think.

Recently, we saw an example of outside the box thinking in our own state that not only benefitted numerous levels of business but also benefitted a number of people who are struggling to make ends meet.

In April, the Kentucky Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company made a donation to Feeding Kentucky as part of the Kentucky Hunger Initiative.

One of the impacts of COVID-19 on our nation is that food producers now have an overabundance of certain products, including and especially pork and cattle, due to several factors, including the shutdown of numerous restaurants and the slowdown of business at many others.

The supply chain is in a fluctuating state right now and it’ll be some time before it lines out. That was no different for a producer in Loretto which lost its market due to processing plant shutdowns. The producer contacted the Kentucky Department of Agriculture about the issue and KDA connected the producer with Purnell’s “Old Folks” Sausage in Simpsonville.

Feeding Kentucky was able to use the donated funds to purchase 10,080 pounds of sausage through Purnell’s from the producer which was then distributed to food banks throughout the state.

The producer was able to save some of his product, Purnell’s was able to sell the product and the end result is that vulnerable people throughout the state received a quality product, all made possible, at the beginning, through generosity.

Kentucky Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles said that his agency will not be able to find an answer for every problem being faced by the state’s agriculture industry, “This story illustrates how Kentucky’s ag community is committed to doing the best we can with the resources we have to maintain the supply chain for our farmers and consumers.”

We agree, but we also believe that innovative ideas like this are exactly what our communities, our nation and our world, need right now.

This is not a situation that anyone involved in the chain of this purchase and donation could have foreseen, but each individual and organization along the way stepped up with a vision to have a positive effect and made it happen.

We’re seeing lots of examples of this here in our communities, as cities such as Pikeville and Prestonsburg step up with funding for local businesses, and other cities, such as Hazard, are supporting collaborative efforts to not only raise and distribute funds. There are also numerous organizations working directly to impact our communities for the better, not just now, but also in the future.

The old ways of thinking are no longer valid. The idea of returning exactly to the way things were before March is quickly becoming impossible. That doesn’t mean we have to turn our backs on the values that once tied us together. It just means we have to think in new ways and take new tactics as we rebound that we never imagined in the past.

In the project which resulted in Feeding Kentucky receiving 10,080 pounds of sausage, every level of societal organization — business, government and charity — stepped up and cooperated.

We need more innovative ideas like this and we need them put into action now. Each small effort has a chain reaction effect, inspiring more and making our lives better.

To each person involved in these efforts and others, we thank you and we will be watching to see what else you’re able to accomplish. To those dreamers and visionaries who have often been dismissed in a past where everything seemed a lot more sure, today is your day, now is your time. You’ve never been needed more than you are today.

As we move into the future, our direction is up to us. Will we rise to the greatest challenge many of us have ever faced? History tells us we can. Our current situation tells us we must. And the optimism to which we try to cling, one of those values that once tied us together and can again, tells us we will.

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