A few months ago, 9-year-old Martha Payne
started the blog NeverSeconds
in an attempt to document and rate the lunches she was served at school in Scotland. The blog immediately skyrocketed in popularity, even gaining recognition from celebrity chef and school lunch advocate Jamie Oliver.
But the primary school student experienced some major ups and downs this week, receiving word on June 14 that she would no longer be allowed to photograph her school meals — but the photography ban was lifted in response to the international uproar.
Payne was notified by her local council on Thursday about the ban. Local council members said she was misrepresenting school lunches and that subsequent newspaper articles about her blog had caused local cafeteria staff to fear for their safety.
In a post published on the night of June 14 entitled "Goodbye," Payne — who writes under the name "VEG" —said that she would miss blogging about her school lunches, adding “I only write my blog, not newspapers, and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos.”
The statement prompted an immediate international backlash against the council, with Oliver immediately tweeting: “Stay strong Martha” and asking his followers on the website to “re-tweet” his message. Celebrity chef Nick Nairn (pictured above with Martha) also intervened on Payne's behalf.
Within a few hours, millions of people hopped on Twitter to register their anger and disbelief, making it one of the most popular topics on the site globally. In the same time period, nearly 3 million people visited her blog.
Finally, the local council authority announced that he was withdrawing the ban, claiming there was “no place for censorship in Argyll and Bute Council.”
Martha’s family welcomed the decision and applauded the good that came from the uproar. Mary’s Meals is a charity organization that aims to feed hungry children in Africa. Payne raises money for the charity through her blog. In a post discussing the lifting of the ban, Payne wrote "I worried yesterday that I would never reach enough money to buy a Mary's Meal kitchen in Malawi but we have raised a total of £45,889.46 which is more than one kitchen! It could be many kitchens or one kitchen feeding many children for years."
By the way, as I write this post this morning, that donation amount is now over £60,000 — roughly the equivalent of $100,000. Well done, Martha!