9-year-old's school dinner blog shut down by council

A charity-fundraising primary school girl has been banned from blogging about her school dinners by the mean old local council in Scotland.

A primary school girl has been banned from blogging about her school dinners by the local council. 9-year-old Martha Payne says she was pulled out of class and told that Argyll and Bute Council had banned her from posting pictures of her lunch to her popular blog Never Seconds.

Never Seconds has attracted millions of visitors and drawn the attention of celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn, pictured above, as well as raising money for charity. Each lunch is rated by healthiness, the number of mouthfuls, price and number of hairs discovered, all adding up to a final Food-o-meter score.

But yesterday Martha, who posts pictures of her daily lunch under the nickname Veg, wrote that she had been taken out of class and told that she couldn't take any more snaps because of the media attention.

Veg's dad adds that despite the support of the school, the local council had decided to ban her from taking photos. I've contacted the council for comment but have yet to hear anything.

Never Seconds is a fun blog and is often complimentary about school meals, so it seems a strange decision -- especially as the online backlash against the decision has brought the blog to even wider attention than it would have otherwise achieved: a textbook example of the Streisand Effect.

Although Martha has been banned from photographing her lunch, here's hoping she continues to write and raise money for charity, especially now that the blog has built up an international community. Visitors have even taken to sending in pictures of their own school dinners from as far afield as the US, Israel and Japan.

The success of the blog has seen over £4,000 of donations raised for Mary's Meals, a charity that provides school meals to kids in developing areas where poverty and hunger prevents children from gaining an education.

Do you think the council was right to shut down Never Seconds? Should kids be encouraged to share their thoughts online? And what are your fondest memories of school dinners? Tell me your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page, or click here to make a donation to Mary's Meals.

Update 1pm: Argyll and Bute Council has responded to the controversy, arguing that the blog "misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils", as they "appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available". The council suggests that the media attention has "led catering staff to fear for their jobs". Is the ban a sensible precaution? Or is it an authoritarian overreaction, a stifling of youthful creativity, and a failure to engage with the concerns of the community?

Update 3pm: The ban has now been overturned. Hooray! Argyll and Bute council has withdrawn the ban and will meet Martha and her father next week to discuss a continuation of the blog.

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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