LONDON – A 9-year-old blogger won a food fight with authorities in her Scottish town Friday, after an online outcry prompted officials to lift a ban on posting photos of her school lunches.
Martha Payne’s images of uninspiring school meals drew international attention. The blog, set up about six weeks ago as a writing project and to help raise money for a school-meals charity, has drawn more than 2 million hits.
Martha, who lives in the coastal town of Lochgilphead, about 130 miles west of Edinburgh, gave each meal a “food-o-meter” rating, and offered an assessment of its contents.
Local officials weren’t amused, and ordered the schoolgirl to stop taking pictures. In a statement, Argyll and Bute Council said Payne’s photos were misleading and had caused distress to cafeteria staff.
The council complained of “unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service” and said the blog “misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils.”
Martha’s father, David Payne, said the blog was never intended to make the food look unappetizing. It includes such positive assessments as “lunch was really nice today and it helped cheer me up.”
An Internet storm was quickly followed by an official U-turn. Council leader Roddy McCuish said he had ordered officials to lift the ban on cafeteria photos.
Amid the blaze of publicity, donations to Mary’s Meals, the charity the blog had been promoting, climbed from $4,700 to more than $62,000 Friday.