School lunch

Martha Payne, the 9-year old Scottish student that started the blog Never Seconds, which went viral in a matter of weeks, was forbidden to bring a camera into school, where she was photographing her school lunches for the blog before having the ban swiftly uplifted after word hit the Web.

The blog detailed Martha’s lunch experiences, replete with photos and a rating system for each meal that included whether or not (more often not) she found hair in her food. It earned praise from celeb TV chef Jamie Oliver for highlighting the poor quality food being fed to students and rapidly accumulated millions of hits from around the world and many other students sending Martha photos of their drab school meals. The high level of publicity sent her school district into a panic—at first they sent investigators into the lunchroom, then the meal quality improved slightly, and most recently, Martha was pulled out of class and asked to stop taking pictures and to stop writing such harsh reviews of the school lunches.

School officials claimed that Martha engaged in “unwarranted attacks” on the local school meal system—particularly after a blog post led the Daily Record to use the title “Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies,” which apparently caused a commotion of panic and fear that school kitchen employees could lose their jobs over the controversy created by Never Seconds.

When news of the ban forbidding Martha from taking any further photos hit the Web—her site traffic exploded as did comments to the school council who reluctantly finally agreed to reverse the ban and continue to let Martha take pictures and document her school meal experience.

While certainly a victory, Martha’s been most excited about her readers supporting her fundraising efforts through the site for Mary’s Meals—a charity that builds kitchens for schools in east Africa. Martha’s already far exceeded her goals and the donations keep coming in.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: Never Seconds