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An overwhelming public response stopped an attempt to censor nine year old food blogger Martha Payne, who's photos of tiny, revolting Scottish school lunch plates went viral earning her blog over 3 million hits. Within two hours of banning her from taking pictures the council reversed their decision. She recently set up a charity page to provide meals for school kids in impoverished communities around the world. The viral response raised about $80,000 today, over 50,000 British pounds, for the charity Mary's Meals.

This lunch plate photo was picked up by English papers bringing global traffic to her blog.

Yesterday the Argyll and Bute council banned her from taking photos of the food.

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.


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

Within hours, a massive wave of public support for Martha forced the council to retract the photo ban.
Roddy McCuish, the council leader, told BBC Radio 4 that he had ordered an immediate reverse of the ban, imposed earlier this week. He said: "There's no place for censorship in Argyll and Bute council and there never has been and there never will be.

"I've just instructed senior officials to immediately withdraw the ban on pictures from the school dining hall. It's a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I've certainly done that."

It marks a complete reverse of the council's position earlier this morning, when a statement directly attacked the NeverSeconds blog, set up by Martha just six weeks before as a writing project, for "unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs".

In six weeks this amazing girl established a blog that shows school plate lunches from around the world, pressuring her community to upgrade the food at her school. In the last 2 weeks she established a charity page to support Mary's Meals which feeds children in schools in impoverished nations such as Malawi. She has already raised enough money to build a kitchen and feed several thousand children for a year.

I mentioned in my blog that last year my friends and I set up Charity Children at school and we made felt soaps and candle holders. We had a sale and raised £70 for Mary's Meals enough to feed 7 children for a whole year!

My blog is being read all over the world and some people have said I am very lucky to have lunch at all. They are right. Lots of readers have asked how they can support Charity Children but because I can't make enough felt soaps it is best if you support Mary's Meals directly.

My grandpa says,

'Mary's Meals is a very efficient and effective charity which works with local volunteers to help them provide meals in school for their children. The charity was founded in 2002 by Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, who lives near us in Argyll, Scotland. Now Mary's Meals feeds over 600,000 children in 16 countries, including Malawi, Liberia, Kenya and Haiti. Many of these children go to school for the first time because of this food. How can you go to school when you have to worry about where the next meal is coming from?

It costs just £10.70 (US$16.80) to feed a child in school for a whole year. This is the average cost worldwide. In Malawi, the children are given a mug of Likuni Phala, maize porridge with soya, vitamins and malt extract. If it is all a child gets to eat, which it will be for some children, it is just enough to keep them healthy. It costs only £7 (US$11) to feed a child for a year there. At least 93p in every pound donated is spend directly on this charitable work.'

When Mary's Meals starts doing lunches in a new school they have to build a kitchen first. They cost £7000. I'd really like there to be a NeverSeconds kitchen but maybe it shouldn't be called NeverSeconds because there will be seconds, for everyone!

In a few hours today, Martha raised the money to build a school kitchen in Malawi.
A Mary's Meals spokesman said: "We are overwhelmed by the huge response to her efforts today which has led to so many more people donating to her online donation page.

"Thanks to this fantastic support, Martha has now raised enough money to build a kitchen in Malawi for children receiving Mary's Meals as part of our Sponsor A School initiative and has broken the record for hitting a Sponsor A School online fundraising target in the quickest amount of time".

Among the pictures Martha published on her blog was one featuring her £2 lunch of a pizza slice, a croquette, sweetcorn and a cupcake.

Martha wrote: "I'm a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I can't do it on one croquette. Do any of you think you could?"

Originally posted to FishOutofWater on Fri Jun 15, 2012 at 07:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Whistleblowers Round Table.

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