Girl’s hit school dinner blog banned by local council
Nine-year-old Martha Payne began writing her originally anonymous blog, NeverSeconds, as a writing project which documented what she was served for lunch each day at her school. Martha’s review included a photo of the meal, a score on her food-o-meter, a health rating and, playfully, how many strands of hair she found in her food.
Martha gained permission from teachers to take photos of her lunch and after a week of blogging she found her words posted across social media sites. The blog received huge levels of traffic and Martha even received a tweet of congratulations for her work from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
The success resulted in pupils being told that they could have as much fruit and salad as they wanted and Martha began raising money for Mary’s Meals, a charity which sets up school feeding projects in some of the world’s poorest communities.
However, as the blog grew in popularity, Argyll and Bute Council came under attack from national media and made the decision to ban the blog. The council released a statement which declared it had “a strongly held view that the information presented in it [the blog] misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils. The photographic images appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available.” The council noted that the escalation in media attention meant that it had to “protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing”.
Following the decision, Martha uploaded a post titled “Goodbye”:
“This morning in maths I got taken out of my class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today. I only write my blog not newspapers and I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.”
Martha’s dad also posted a message, stating that the school had been “brilliant and supportive from the beginning” and that it had wholly been Argyll and Bute Council’s decision to ban the blog.
However, following national protest and huge pressure across the internet for the blog to remain in place, council leader Roddy McCuish told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “I have just instructed senior officials to withdraw the ban.”
The publicity that the ban caused has helped push Martha’s charity total to over £20,000.