Martha Payne: School Food Critic

by Steven Doyle

An inspiring story comes from Lochgilphead, Scotland, home to 9-year old school cafeteria critic and international blogger, Martha Payne. Martha’s story is an inspiring one. She started writing her blog as an exercise and she enjoyed chatting about her lunches. But what happened in the short 6 weeks the blog, which is called NeverSeconds, is shocking.  

When Martha first began snapping food shots of her lunch at school each day she would rate the meals with such criteria as a Food-O-Meter, which is a scale from 1 to 10, the nutrition factor and how many hairs were found on the plate that day. In the six weeks Martha blogged only one hair was found.

The blog inspired children from around the world to send in photos of their lunches along with the same style of criticism, and was praised publicly by chef and advocate Jamie Oliver. Another side effect of the food blog was the generous donations sent in by the child’s readers to an international fund that feeds school children, Mary’s Meal. To date just over $4,700 has been raised by Martha.

The story sounds fun, but the school’s council didn’t necessarily see it that way. Complaints were raised by the school cafeteria staff citing stress and undo criticism. The council was particularly upset with a report about the blog in Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper headlined “Fire the Dinner Ladies.”

Today Martha was squelched and the school demanded she refrain from further photos of the meals.

This caused a firestorm of criticism on the school and made headlines across the globe. The ban quickly became an online talking point Friday, with free speech group the Index on Censorship even weighing in on Payne’s behalf. Oliver Tweeted again asking Martha to stay strong. Council leader Roddy McCuish said he had ordered officials to lift the ban on cafeteria photos. He praised Martha as “an enterprising and imagina

tive pupil.”

To date Martha has garnered nearly 4 million hits on her blog as the world awaits her next meal.

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Filed under Food Photos, fun with food, fundraiser, Steven Doyle

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