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Modern Parenthood

NeverSeconds lunch blog drama ends with go-ahead for Martha Payne

It didn't take long for a popular outcry to force local government to reverse its ban of NeverSeconds, the school lunch photography blog written by 9-year-old Martha Payne.

By / June 15, 2012

Celebrity Chef Jamie Oliver tweeted his support of Martha Payne and her NeverSeconds school lunch blog, which was banned and then unbanned by local British officials. In this 2006 photo, Oliver serves up a healthy school dinner to pupils from Ealdham Primary School in Leicester Square.

Courtesy of Jamie Oliver/PA


Nothing like the power of the press, and a few photographs of coronation chicken.

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is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..

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This week, British primary school student Martha Payne, whose uber-popular blog “NeverSeconds” documents her tasty (and not-so-tasty) school meals, was thrust into the international news spotlight when her local government ordered her to cease and desist her pesky photographing.

Yes, the Council of Argyll and Bute decided that the 9-year-old was a threat to school staff wellbeing. The school meals crew, it said, was often in tears from the international attention to offerings such as “vegetable soup and sausages with roast potatoes,” which Payne rates by a 1 to 10 “Food-o-meter” scale, as well as by “mouthfuls,” “price,” “health,” and “pieces of hair.”  (This particular item had one of the latter, under a cucumber.)

Argyll and Bute Council wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs,” the Council said in a statement.

(A statement, I must add, that has received criticism in the British press not only for its censoring inclinations, but for the misuse of “refute.”  Gotta love the Brits.)
Now, for folks on this side of the Atlantic (or those who have just blocked out school mealtime memories), Payne started her NeverSeconds blog earlier this spring, using her dad’s camera to shoot pics of the meals served at her primary school in western Scotland.

The first entries show sad little portions of mass produced pizza, scatterings of corn kernels and lone croquettes.  (“The pizza in the first pic was alright but I’d have enjoyed more than 1 croquet,” Payne wrote. “I’m a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette ...  The good thing about this blog is Dad understands why I am hungry when I get home.”)

She signed the posts VEG, noting that her dad said she should call herself “Veritas Ex Gusto,” or “truth from tasting” in Latin.

“But who knows Latin?” she asked. “You can call me Veg.”


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