Zane Powles has been carrying 18 kg (almost 40 pounds) of food on foot for three weeks to deliver to students from vulnerable families.
The Coronavirus outbreak has caused a series of unfortunate events. This includes loss of jobs, closure of workplaces and educational institutions, restaurants, economic crises, and among other problems, food insecurity. In the face of the COVID-19 lockdown, people are experiencing a hunger crisis at an unprecedented rate. According to The Guardian, the number of people depending on food banks for their daily meals has been rising. With unemployed parents, children will also be affected and may have to go without food. However, This teacher is ensuring that this does not happen to children from his school.
'If I can help them stay in their house, I'll do anything I can.'— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) April 9, 2020
Assistant Head Teacher, Zane Powles, is quite literally going the extra mile to help families during lockdown. He walks five miles every day to deliver almost 100 lunches to students at home. 👏 pic.twitter.com/kHDtKKomDH
Zane Powles is an assistant headteacher at Western Primary School in Grimsby, northeast Lincolnshire. "My first thought was how are we going to get our children meals," Powles told Good Morning America. "We have vulnerable families that need help so we had to come up with a plan." In a unique solution to the problem that was set-off by the Coronavirus outbreak, he decided to hand-deliver food to his students. What's more, he does so by walking more than five miles, every single day, while carrying a rucksack filled with meals for 78 children.
Five miles, more than 100 school meals and a daily hike around parts of Grimsby- I’ve been out with Zane Powles, the army veteran turned assistant head teacher making sure his pupils are still getting fed every day. Full story coming up on @looknorthBBC pic.twitter.com/3V0NYNhHiM— Phillip Norton (@phillipnorton) April 6, 2020
The former soldier, who was part of the Grenadier Guards, also ensures that the lockdown does not hinder the children's education and carries homework along with the food for the children. He carries about 18kgs (40 pounds) every single day. By hand-delivering, he also keeps a check on the welfare of the children. He leaves the food package on the doorstep of his student's house and waits on the pavement or garden to see to it that it is picked up by his student. It is only after this confirmation that he leaves. According to the Independent, 41 percent of children at the Western Primary School are entitled to free school meals and 34 percent of children are in poverty in Grimsby.
"The parents and children come to the window or the door to wave and say hello, some of the parents want to have a little chat – I think I’m the only adult contact they get to talk to some days," Powles said, adding that the daily delivery of lunches has been "brilliant and humbling." Additionally, headteacher Kim Leach along with another teacher has also taken up delivering food packages to children who live further away. They carry the food by car and deliver it to another 25 children who live across town. It is a 15-mile round trip every day for these teachers. "I suspect there'll be a fair few of our families that have got very little food," Leach explained to Sky News. As for the content of the food packet, it contains a sandwich, a packet of crisps, a biscuit and an apple.
"I’m usually quite a private person, so all the attention is kind of embarrassing, but we’re all just doing our job – the welfare of our students is our top priority and we’re just doing the best we can," Powles stated. "It’s a big team effort for sure. I look like I’m doing the donkey work, but it really isn’t just me, the other teachers also drive to deliver meals to children who live further away, we call the families up every week to make sure they’re doing okay, we prepare and pack the lunches together every single day," he added. The fitness enthusiast believes that his effort to ensure children get fed also encourages the parents to stay home.
The teacher has been doing it for three weeks now and has earned a name as a "legend" in the area. Colorful posters with "Well done Mr. Powles" has been pasted on a garden wall. Another tribute to the teacher read, "LEGND!! MR POWELS" in all caps, it is the thought that matters and not the spelling of the grateful kid. Powles was also awarded Primary Teacher of the Year in 2019.