The city council in Argyll, Scotland forced 9-year-old Martha Payne to shut down her school lunch review blog NeverSeconds. In a blog post published last night entitled “Goodbye,” Martha announced that she had been banned from taking photos of her school lunches.
In the post, she explains that she was told that she wasn’t allowed to take photos of her school’s lunches because of a Newspaper article about her in the Daily Record titled “Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies.” According to the council, the article sparked termination fears among the lunch staff, which led to the decision to ban Martha from photographing her food.
Her blog, which started just a month ago, included a photo of her school lunch and rated it by taste, health, and “pieces of hair.” Martha’s blog quickly went viral thanks to celebrity chef and healthy school meal crusader Jamie Oliver, who mentioned her project on Twitter. The celebrity endorsement helped, within days of Oliver’s tweet, the local council sent reps to the school to meet with Martha’s father. “For the first time ever I have seen at lunch cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrot and cucumber shreddings,” Martha wrote on her blog shortly thereafter. And the school is now offering students unlimited veggies, fruits, and bread with their lunches.
The attention has continued, and Never Seconds has received over 2 million hits, and has raised nearly £43,000 for the charity Mary’s Meals , an “international movement that sets up school feeding projects in communities where poverty and hunger prevent children from gaining an education.”
Since she was banned from taking photos yesterday the support has been pouring in over Twitter and her dad took to BBC radio saying “”I can see that the photographs at the start didn’t look the most appetising, but Martha marked the last school meal 10 out of 10,”
Scotland’s Education Secretary Mike Russell, who also happens to be the Argyll and Bute MSP tweeted this morning: “I have made it very clear to the Council Chief Executive that I believe the ban should be lifted immediately.”
The uproar worked, and 24-hours after they banned Martha from taking photos in the dining hall, the council lifted the ban, effective immediately.
Never underestimate the power of a little girl with a camera, Twitter, and a Celebrity chef.