School’s Ban On 9-Year-Old Blogger’s Cafeteria Photos Lasts All Of One Day

First, the bummer news: After various news reports bashed a Scottish school and its lunches, which were the subject of a 9-year-old student’s food blog, school officials told the girl she couldn’t take photos in the cafeteria, rendering her blog pointless. Now the yay news: a local official ordered the school to reverse the ban after just one day.

Martha first started blogging on “Never Seconds” about six weeks ago, taking pictures of her sometimes uninspiring, unappetizing meals and posting them with comments and her ratings of the food. Her blog was set up as a project to help raise money for a school-meals charity, and soon gained attention from around the world. Her school also changed up its meals to make them more healthful.

Yesterday, she was told she had to stop taking photos, as local officials said the photos were “misleading” and had caused distress to cafeteria staff, reports the Washington Post.

Apparently a particularly scathing report headlined “Fire the Dinner Ladies” had ticked off the school, and it complained about “unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service” and said the blog “misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils.” As a result, it announced that no photos could be taken in the school canteen.

Martha wrote what she thought would be her last post yesterday, titled “Goodbye.”

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.


Her dad added a note to the post, explaining that “Martha’s school have been brilliant and supportive from the beginning and I’d like to thank them all,” and that he’d contacted the council about the ban.

A quick Internet storm gathered after the photo ban, causing the council to order school officials to reverse it. The leader of the council called Martha “an enterprising and imaginative pupil.”

“There is no place for censorship in this council and never will be whilst I am leader,” he added.

All of this publicity has been good for Mary’s Meals, the charity Martha promotes on her blog. Donations went from around $4,700 to almost $31,000 as of today.

You go, girl.

*Thanks for the tips, Victoria and Kristina!

Scottish council conceds in online food fight, lifts gag on 9-year-old school lunch blogger [Washington Post]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    Well, that takes care of Lunchlady Doris.

  2. HogwartsProfessor says:

    She can take pictures of the new meals and say how they are better. She’s got a good opportunity here to raise money for the charity and help other kids learn about healthy eating. She’s not doing anything malicious here. Good on the council for reversing the ban. It seems it was a hasty decision.

  3. Roy Hobbs says:

    Why do organizations keep insisting on fighting the Internet? They always lose.

    • vastrightwing says:

      Yes, it’s called the Barbra Streisand effect. This is why people in power want to take it down. They don’t like it when they are on the wrong side. LOL

  4. Cicadymn says:

    “There is no place for censorship in this council and never will be whilst I am leader,” he added.

    “When people find it and publicly shame me.” he added under his breath.

    • guspaz says:

      That’s not really how it worked. The school banned the photos, and the council reversed it when they found out about it. The council was not the one who instituted the ban in the first place, they overruled the ban when notified.

  5. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Glad someone over there had some sense.

    Obvious this is a different country and I don’t know their specific laws, but from a U.S. citizen perspective it’s clear banning pictures of the food given to you is immoral if not illegal.

    • chiieddy says:

      Schools in the US can ban objects they deem disruptive to learning. In this case, her camera was banned, not the blog itself. This could easily happen in a US school.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        I would argue the camera was essential for learning. Maybe not learning what they were teaching, but learning nonetheless.

  6. dootsie says:

    Good for the council! Of course, if their school system is anything like over here, the council is the group mandating the meals for the schools.
    What’s awesome: all of the meals look better than ones I was served here in the states. Smaller meals, but they look so much higher quality.

  7. Pete the Geek says:

    I suppose George Orwell’s writings are also banned at that school.

  8. highfructosepornsyrup says:

    Is it just me or do the various Asian meals look way better than the rest?

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Welcome to a culture that cares about it’s children.

      • The Twilight Clone says:

        Yes, welcome to a culture that cares about IT IS children.

        • jaya9581 says:

          Welcome to the internet, where the content of your comment holds no meaning, only proper spelling and grammar.

          • bwcbwc says:

            Without proper spelling and grammar, your comment doesn’t mean what you think it does. Even if people can guess that what you meant is not what you said. Some posts are “sites to bee hold” to provide an example from apiculture.

  9. Jules Noctambule says:

    Good for her! Her blog is charming, and using it to enrich a charity as well is extra-lovely.

  10. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    Silly school officials. Oppressing one’s rights is the exclusive province of the Crown.

  11. Nicolaus99 says:

    Aw, shucks. Every now and then you’re reminded that there IS good in the world.

  12. framitz says:

    Good girl!
    A long time ago at a now closed Air Force Base I was required to eat in the mess hall.
    The food was beyond horrific, so I brought in my camera every day for a week and photographed the offerings. Then I submitted my evidence through channels to the Inspector General’s office.

    I heard nothing for three months, then I noticed a bunch of people going through the chow line that I hadn’t seen before. The next day we heard that the supervisor had been caught taking the GOOD food away and selling it while we were served crap.
    The a-hole ended up in jail, the dining hall food made a very dramatic improvement within a week.

    The folks that knew I was the one that reported it were overjoyed while my commander was pissed at me even though I did everything the right way.

    Keep up the good fight kid, you ARE making a difference!

  13. KyleOrton says:

    “maths”? “head teacher”? “dinners”?


  14. voogru says:

    streisand effect

  15. Bladerunner says:

    To clarify, the “there’s no place for censorship” post was the Council’s SECOND position on the topic. Someone on another site I go to posted their ORIGINAL reply:

    “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 has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the ‘never seconds’ blog for obvious reasons despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils however this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing. In particular, the photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen.

    There have been discussions between senior council staff and Martha’s father however, despite an acknowledgement that the media coverage has produced these unwarranted attacks, he intimated that he would continue with the blog.

    The council has had no complaints for the last two years about the quality of school meals other than one from the Payne family received on 6 June and there have been no changes to the service on offer since the introduction of the blog.

    Pupils have a daily choice of two meals from a menu which is designed with pupils, parents and teachers. Our summer menu is about to be launched and includes main course choices like meat or vegetarian lasagne served with carrots and garlic bread or chicken pie with puff pastry, mashed potato and mixed vegetables.

    Pupils can choose from at least two meals every day. They pay £2 for two courses and this could be a starter and a main or a main and a desert. Each meal comes with milk or water. Pupils can have as much salad and bread as they want. Salad, vegetables, fruit, yoghurt and cheese options are available every day. These are standing options and are not a result of any changes in response to the blog site.

    As part of the curriculum for excellence, pupils in all our schools are regularly taught about healthy eating and at lunch breaks staff encourage pupils to make good choices from what is on offer. We use a system called ‘Nutmeg’ to make sure everything is nutritionally balanced. Our staff also get nutrition awareness training so they know how to provide a good healthy meal. There is portion sized guidance which we adhere to and it is matched to the age of the child so they get the right amount of food. Second portions would mean too many calories for pupils.

    In Lochgilphead Primary School we are piloting a new pre-ordering scheme which is designed to encourage class discussion around meal choices and also improves the accuracy of meal choices. The pupils use a touch screen to select their lunch option and the data is downloaded in the kitchen so they know how many portions of each meal are required. As they place their order, the pupils are given a coloured band which relates to their meal choice that day. They wear it during the morning, and at lunchtime they hand it to the catering assistant, who will give them the corresponding meal.

    The council’s focus is now on supporting the school in the education of young people in Argyll and Bute.”

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      “Pupils have a daily choice of two meals from a menu which is designed with pupils, parents and teachers.”

      1. Mashed and bangers.
      2. Spam

  16. lvdave says:

    Doncha LOVE the Streisand effect? Personally I can’t stand the woman, but the effect named after her sure fixes a lot of broken things…

  17. km9v says:

    I you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  18. NickJames says:

    All the meals in her blog look 10/10 quality for me. I got served prison slop in my grade school days. Miami-Dade FL public school food looks attrocious and 75% of the time taste horrible and is never ever healthy.

    • whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

      The blog started in part, IIRC, because Martha often came home hungry. If you go all the way back to the beginning, there are some plates with two chicken nuggets and five fries, that sort of thing.

  19. BorkBorkBork says:

    I’m impressed by this girl. Not only is she bringing an important topic to light, she’s gaining donations to Mary’s Meals.

    She has a bright future ahead of her!

  20. Nogard13 says:

    Did anyone there really not see this coming? The little girl has a cult following and had even been interviewed by local media (newspaper). Once that newspaper got wind of this, they published the Twitter, Facebook page, and email of the office/people who banned her and you can imagine how much hate mail/tweets they must’ve received. I’m honestly surprised this ban lasted a whole day.

  21. dush says:

    Maths, whilst, calling lunch dinner. Love the British.