Lots of everyday heroes are emerging from this COVID-19 pandemic, and one of them is Zane Powles, a primary school teacher who works at Western Primary School in Grimsby, in the UK. Zane has been walking more than 5 miles every day to deliver free lunches to students.
Zane knew that many of his students rely on the free meals they get when they come to school, and because of the lockdown, they're no longer getting those free meals. So Zane took it upon himself to bring the food to his students — more than 70 of them — on a daily basis.
Assistant headteacher @zaneyteacher at Western primary school in Grimsby walks over five miles every day to deliver school meals to scores of children. #HOC19 #COVIDー19 #COVID19 #StayAtHome #StaySafe #LocalHeroes "What a HERO" https://t.co/4qm8HCFZWU pic.twitter.com/soWo14HV2H— Heroes Of Covid-19 (@HeroesOfCovid19) April 9, 2020
The food itself weighs around 40 pounds, but that doesn't deter Zane. He also uses these deliveries as a chance to check up on his students and make sure they're doing all right.
"When we heard about the lockdown on the Wednesday, we were really concerned about, you know, would our children be safe? What would happen with the free school meals? Wouldn't be able to see them every day," Zane told the BBC.
"So what I decided to do was just get a map together, plot out where our free school meals were, and by delivering them every day, I'm able to see the children, they're able to get a meal, and the parents are able to keep the children in the house and follow lockdown rules."
Zane has coordinated efforts with headteacher Kim Leach and one other teacher, who deliver an additional 25 meals by car to students who live farther away. But since Zane is a "fitness freak," they decided he'd be the one to make the walk every day.
According to the Independent, Zane "puts the packed lunch on the doorstep, knocks on the door, and then waits on the pavement or in the garden until they are picked up." This short interaction is helpful for both the students and the parents.
Zane told the Independent, "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."
Zane considers himself a private person and finds all the attention he's getting "kind of embarrassing." He maintains that he's simply doing his job. "The welfare of our students is our top priority and we're just doing the best we can," he said.
Of course, his embarrassment about the attention hasn't stopped thousands all over the world from sharing his story and commending his hard work. Zane's been featured on several news programs and lauded by folks all over the world.
According to End Child Poverty, 34 percent of children in Grimsby live in poverty. They are legally entitled to these meals, they truly need them, and if their teachers didn't deliver them, they would go hungry.
Ever the modest one, Zane is unwilling to take all the credit for his effort, insisting that he's just part of a team of teachers who knew they had to get these meals to kids. "It's a big team effort for sure," he said. "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 OK, we prepare and pack the lunches together every single day."