School Dinner Blogger - 9 yr old Martha Payne from Argyll

School Dinner Blogger – 9 yr old Martha Payne from Argyll

Mary's Meals

Martha's school dinner

Martha’s school dinner

 The pizza was alright but I'd have enjoyed more than 1 croquet. I'm a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette. Do any of you think you could?

The pizza was alright but I’d have enjoyed more than 1 croquet. I’m a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette. Do any of you think you could? — Martha

My dad says I should call myself Veritas Ex Gustu, truth from tasting in Latin but who knows Latin? You can call me Veg. — Martha Payne

Shocking but inspirational blog. Keep going. Big love from Jamie x. — Jamie Oliver

Stay strong Martha. — Jamie Oliver

When children show initiative, you encourage them. You do not discourage. What you never do is punish.

When my young friend Alice asked me to show her how to set up a blog, I was only too happy to help her. She went home, and I was pleased to see within a couple of hours she had a blog alicemck up and running.

The food the British shovel into the mouths of children is a national disgrace. Taking children to the local McVomit is not a treat, it is child abuse.

The UK is suffering a national epidemic of childhood obesity. Kids are suffering from Type II diabetes, a disease of late middle age.

Jamie Oliver highlighted that school dinners are a national disgrace. When he visited a township in South Africa the women were shocked by what was served in England for school dinners.

School dinners are important. If children are not getting quality food their education suffers. What children eat, learning how to cook, a basic life skill, should form part of their education. For many children from poor families, school dinner is the only opportunity they have to eat a decent meal during the day.

A couple of years ago I was in an Italian tea shop in Alton. A couple of families were there with their children. The children were clearly enjoying their food.

I spoke with the children, and yes, they were enjoying their food. Their parents said they loved going there for a meal.

Nine-year-old Martha Payne writes a blog NeverSeconds about her school meals, she takes photos of her dinner and rates it.

An activity one would think she would be praised for, encouraged, thanks from a grateful local authority for providing useful feedback.

But oh no. The pathetic local jobsworth at Argyll and Bute council acting like the local Stasi banned her from taking photos of her school dinner. They issued a statement which was a vicious attack on a nine-year-old girl, had her called in to see her head teacher. If this is not school bullying I do not know what is. If nothing else it demonstrates the mindset of the local jobsworth.

This is what she wrote yesterday:


This morning in maths I got taken out of 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 am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either.


plus an addition from her father:

Veg’s Dad, Dave, here. I felt it’s important to add a few bits of info to the blog tonight. Martha’s school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all. I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha’s photography.

It is a shame that a blog that today went through 2 million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly £2000 for charity is forced to end.

Dave Payne

Children only get one chance at an education. What they say matters!

Nick Nairn, the celebrity chef, led criticism of the ban, saying it was “incredibly short-sighted” to punish someone who was a force for good and the decision reminded him of something that would happen in Communist China.

Martha has done a fantastic job. All the way through this she has been incredibly fair and now she’s been punished for something that she had no hand in whatsoever and that makes me cross.

I have no idea what process the council went through, but it just seems to me incredibly short-sighted to penalise a girl who’s actually been a force for good and a force for change by slapping her down and silencing her. If that had happened in China, we would be up in arms about it.

Ian Rankin, the best-selling crime author, tweeted to Argyll and Bute Council: I spent yesterday trying to enthuse school pupils about creativity and the written word. So thanks a lot.

Such has been the public outcry at the bullying of Martha Payne by the local jobsworth at Argyll and Bute council, that the leader of the council has had to intervene and live on BBC Radio 4 World at One lunchtime news say yes, she can continue to photograph her school dinners.

I have read her blog, and it is brilliant! She is articulate, she has a clever way of rating her meals, her photography is good (and when she forgets her camera she draws her dinner).

Martha does not only write about her dinner and rate it, she asks questions of the contents, rates it on health grounds, asks where it is sourced.

Martha was not only writing about her school dinners, she was posting pictures that other kids had taken at other schools, and she was using her blog to raise money for a charity in Africa, Mary’s Meals.

Last year my friends and I started a club, which the school let us run, called Charity Children. We raised money for Mary’s Meals. In our first sale we raised £70 in three hours which is enough to feed 7 children school lunches for a WHOLE YEAR! A lot of kids go to school everyday just for the food. Each lunch costs 6p to make.

The school dinners look singularly unappetising. Would you pay £2 for one of these dinners? I know I would not. Note the contrast between her school dinners and those kids around the world have sent to her.

I wonder what the jobsworth at the local council has for dinner? I do not know what the dinners are like in Lincolnshire schools, but I do know what they are like in the County Restaurant, the staff canteen at County Council HQ. They are excellent and very good value for money. But then they have to be as the chief executive and senior councillors eat there. Maybe the jobsworth at Argyll and Bute should try eating what Martha and her school friends are served.

Her parents must be very proud of her.

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3 Responses to “NeverSeconds”

  1. keithpp Says:

    An amazing day …

    • during the day NeverSeconds passed 3 million hits
    • #neverseconds top trending in UK
    • #neverseconds No 3 trending worldwide

    9pm Friday evening Martha Payne posted a big thank you to everyone:

    I think you know why I don’t have a picture today but I will have on Monday! Thanks to everyone that has helped to get my blog back on track. I would have missed writing it a lot and I’m looking forward to sharing my dinners and yours.

    I worried yesterday that I would never reach enough money to buy a Mary’s Meal kitchen in Malawi (31 seconds!) 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.

    A small thank you isn’t enough so here’s a big THANK YOU to you all!

    See you on Monday,


    One truly amazing girl!

  2. keithpp Says:

    A little after midnight and NeverSeconds had passed 4.2 million hits!

  3. pandora999 Says:

    Fantastic victory. Love this little girl’s courage, genius and determination. SUPERB!

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