A nine-year-old girl who blogged about her school dinners to raise money for charity has been banned from taking photographs of her lunches by her local council.
Martha Payne, from Argyll in Scotland, starting uploading images of her "shocking" school dinners onto her blog NeverSeconds and rating them out of 10.
Every post included a picture of the meal and a ratings list, including "number of mouthfuls", "health rating" and "pieces of hair". The schoolgirl's blog became an internet hit and racked up more than two million hits in just a matter of weeks.
Martha Payne's NeverSeconds blog became an internet sensation
But now Argyll and Bute Council have put a stop to Martha's innocent blogging after a headline in Scottish paper the Daily Record which featured a photo of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline "Time to fire the dinner ladies...", according to the BBC.
On Thursday, Martha uploaded a farewell post, titled "Goodbye" which read:
"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 father, Dave Payne, added a comment underneath his daughter's final post, saying the school had been "brilliant and supportive" throughout Martha's blog and he would "like to thank them all".
"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."
Martha had previously been backed by celebrity chef and do-gooder Jamie Oliver, who tweeted: "Shocking but inspirational blog. Keep going. Big love from Jamie x".
The school dinner photos published on NeverSeconds included an "alright" slice of pizza, a smattering of sweetcorn and a lonely potato croquette.
"I'd have enjoyed more than 1 croquet," Martha bemoaned. "I'm a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I cant do it on 1 croquette. Do any of you think you could?"
Another post consisted of two croquettes, a pitifully-sized cheeseburger, one ice lolly and three pieces of cucumber.
"Today's meal was on the menu as Cheeseburger and ice cream/biscuit but as you can see I got an ice lolly," Martha said. "I prefer ice cream. I wish they had stuck to the menu. I did get 2 croquettes though only 3 pieces of cucumber when I said no thanks to the peas.
"The good thing about this blog is Dad understands why I am hungry when I get home. Today he made a Banana Loaf, shame I don't like bananas, see I am not perfect!"
The council has confirmed asking Martha to stop taking photos. In a statement, it said it "wholly refutes the unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service".
According to the council, catering staff at the school feared for their jobs. A statement released by the council read:
"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 added it had received no complaints for the past two years about the quality of school meals, other than one from the Payne family.
"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.
"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."
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