Friday, 15 June 2012

friday flowers: a second chance for NeverSeconds

I was pretty damn annoyed this morning when I read that 9 year old Martha Payne's blog, Never Seconds, had been silenced by the Argyll & Bute council - and decided that this week's Friday Flowers would be a trophy bouquet for all her hard work:
Martha started her blog back in April - she takes daily photos of her school lunches and rates them in terms of taste & health, the number of mouthfuls many pieces of hair she finds in it (ugh!).
It's a fascinating account of nutrition in schools, which has been a pretty hot topic thanks to Jamie Oliver over the last few years. Martha's blog went viral quickly, and she's had images sent to her of school lunches in places as far afield as Finland, Japan and the US. 
(As an aside, I would pick Canada. How delicious?)
And so Martha decided to do some good with all the support she was getting - asking readers to support Mary's Meals, a charity that feeds some of the hungriest children in the world. She set herself a target of £7k, and had raised £2k of that before the council decided that her posts about her school lunches were making staff unhappy - although it's worth noting that some meals she really enjoyed. This one received a rating of 9/10 from Martha, even though it looks like orange slop to me:
It appears no one stopped to think for one minute that here was a little girl, a child of 9, who was diligently writing every day, practising all she was learning in lessons about healthy food and nutrition (which is indeed taught in schools). Martha's blog & the world wide connections she was making is perfect fodder for lessons in other cultures, and connecting kids around the globe - for *free*. At the very least, she's a one-person focus group in what kids want to eat. She was berated for not always making healthy choices, as is probably true of all children - but it turns out that there was always a policy of unlimited salad, bread and fruit - only no one had bothered to mention it to the kids, and so Martha did! 

Yesterday Martha was called out of class and told she was not to take any more pictures. She was naturally upset, and said goodbye in a post last night. 

Enter twitter and mainstream media such as Wired, CNBC & the BBC, and the story I was going to tell today of how ignorance & fear of the internet by backwards-looking civil servants has been turned on its head. 

Jamie Oliver tweeted to his 3.2m fans to support Martha. The local Member of the Scottish Parliament put pressure on the head of the council to overturn the 'daft' ban. As of writing this, 214 news articles have been written about Never Seconds, and the Guardian suggested people tweet images of their lunch tagged #MyLunchforMartha in support. 
Just after lunchtime, (how fitting), it was announced that the ban was reversed. The statement from the council couldn't be more different in tone than the previous, pretty aggressive one was.

In all of this, this would be my message to Martha - which Justgiving said was too long to post when I made my donation to Mary's Meals: 
Martha, one day this will provide much amusement to your own children, to see how you ate at school, and in even more years it'll become history, to see what school meals were in 2012. 
My best part is when you get pictures from overseas - it's awesome to learn about cultures through food and how great to get to 'meet' people from all over the world. 
Unfortunately, sometimes grown ups are scared of new things that they haven't thought of themselves, or they don't like change. But keep writing. Because apart from history and connecting cultures, you've discovered your own way to change the world - a lot of children will be fed because of you. Well done. 

images: flowers-ohjoy
food: neverseconds

Support Martha @ Mary's Meals here.


Gillian said...

From a UK community where "large" primary schools have between 400 - 500 children, it is amazing that she has now raised enough to feed 1,963 children for a year!!

And it because of blogs like this, raising awareness not of the controversy going on, but of the courages efforts of a 9 year old developing the her skills and giving us an insight into the life and mind of a schoolgirl.

Carly {covet.collect.connect} said...

By yesterday she had raised £2k, and on her blog tonight the total stands at £45k...which has already been overtaken. As I'm writing this, Martha has received pledges for £52k, 754% of her target!
As one comment read - Human race 1 - Bureaucracy 0 ...

Gillian said...

£84,584.63 is the total as of 6pm Monday - that's a whopping 1,208% of her target! Unbelievable!!!

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