Zane Powles of Western Primary School in the English coastal town of Grimsby, Lincolnshire, walks more than 5 miles (approx. 8 km) every day laden with backpacks carrying hand-packed healthy lunches.
Powles’s school has been closed in order to facilitate social distancing since March 20, 2020. The 47-year-old has made it his mission to devote almost two hours every single day to feed 78 of his most needy students amidst the global health epidemic caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.
Powles, a former soldier who was part of the Grenadier Guards, leaves lunches on the doorsteps of his students’ homes after ringing the doorbell to alert them to his visit, reported the English TV show Good Morning Britain.
Each lunch bag, the contents of which are provided by the school’s catering contractor, typically contains a sandwich, a packet of chips, a cookie, and a piece of fruit. Powles’s haul can weigh up to 40 pounds (approx. 18 kg) per trip.
Powles said during these uncertain times of global tragedy when people are risking their lives on the front line and trying to help and serve others, he too is trying to lend his support by doing the right thing.
Hand-delivering lunches, Powles said, minimizes social contact more effectively than asking parents to come into school to collect them. As the school’s resident fitness fanatic, Powles said he was the obvious choice for the role of on-foot deliveryman.
Powles has long held a reputation for altruism. In 2019 he was nominated by a parent for, and subsequently won, the Inspirational Primary School Teacher award. “We should never give up on children—having a tough upbringing is never their fault,” Powles said at the award ceremony, according to The Sun.
Western Primary School’s headteacher, Kim Leach, alongside other teachers, has even assisted Powles by helping deliver an additional 25 packed lunches to children that live farther than 5 miles away from school.
Powles plans to continue his daily 5-mile lunch delivery service for as long as the school is closed, and funding allows. A father of three sons who lives alone, the teacher explained that it “wouldn’t be worthwhile” for him to use his car to make deliveries; part of the appeal of walking, he said, is being able to check on his students’ welfare along the way.
The dedicated teacher’s efforts have been widely acknowledged and appreciated. However, Powles said that the accolade he has received is “kind of embarrassing,” but that the welfare of their students remains the school’s top priority, reported The Independent.
“Quite a lot of the families are struggling,” he told the outlet, “they don’t want to drag their kids out to the shop, some of them are scared to leave their house. So I’m 100 percent happy to help and be there for them.”
Most families, Powles added, have been sensible enough to stay indoors and remain 2 meters away from their teacher when he calls. As the country, and the world, plays its part in assuaging the still-spreading virus, Powles’s mission is to make the lives of disadvantaged children in self-isolation just a little bit easier.
“It’s about making sure vulnerable kids get at least one decent meal,” he told The Sun.