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NeverSeconds is a single topic blog run by a nine-year-old Scottish student named Martha to chronicle the scant school lunches provided at her primary school. The photo blog gained notoriety in May 2012 after celebrity chef Jamie Oliver tweeted a link, drawing the media’s attention to the high prices and meager quality of the meals served in public school cafeterias.
Martha began her blog on April 30th, 2012, outlining the criteria that she would be reviewing the meals with: A taste rating, how many mouthfuls it took to complete, the type of course offered, a health rating, the price and jokingly, pieces of hair. She signed the post VEG, which is an initialism for the Latin phrase Veritas Ex Gustu meaning “truth from tasting.” Martha’s first photos were uploaded on May 8th, showing two lunches she had eaten. Her first lunch photo consisted of a slice of pizza, a muffin, one croquette and a small amount of corn, while the second photo featured a cheeseburger, two croquettes, three slices of cucumber and an ice pop. The post went on to generate nearly 90 comments from the readers, many of whom addressed their concerns over the inadequacies of the school lunch menu.
Shortly after Martha published her first photo on May 8th, 2012, her father David Payne tweeted out the link to the blog, followed by tweets to celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and the local news aggregator @ForArgyll. That day, Payne also tweeted that the school said she could use the camera as long as she only photographed the food. By the next morning, the blog had received more than 25,000 hits as well as featured coverage on the Huffington Post UK and the Daily Mail. The following day, Jamie Oliver tweeted back at David Payne, calling the blog “shocking” and “inspirational.” Oliver later mailed her a copy of his book Jamie’s Great Britain with a personal inscription telling her to keep up the great work.
Over the next several days, the blog continued to draw more news media coverage from BBC News, The Sun and The Telegraph. On May 14th, Martha was interviewed by BBC Radio 4, in which she noted that she began the blog after her father suggested it would be a good writing exercise for her. Her father stated that he was quite surprised by Martha’s photographs and that the meals did not look healthy or substantial. Following this interview, the blog was also featured on TIME. Additionally on the 14th, Martha began encouraging readers to submit pictures of their own lunches, rating them in a similar way, to be featured on the blog. The first user submitted photo was posted the following day, which showed a stew from Spain.
In early June, Martha began using her blog to promote donations to Mary’s Meals, a charity program dedicated to help provide meals in underprivileged school districts. By June 15th, she had raised more than £45,000 ($70,438 US) of her £7000 ($10,957 US) target. Her charity work was featured on the blog of American non-profit The Ad Counciland The Telegraph.
On the morning of June 14th, 2012, Martha was informed that the school had decided she could not take any more photos after officials had seen a newspaper story about her blog titled “Time to Fire the Dinner Ladies.” She made a joint blog post with her father titled “Goodbye”, where he clarified that the decision to ban her photography was made by members of the Argyll and Bute council, not the school district. News of the ban was shared on Wired, The Telegraph and the Huffington Post. In response the to ban, Twitter users began sharing photos of their lunches with the hashtags #neverseconds and #MyLunchForMartha to show their solidarity with the young blogger. The following day, the Guardian highlighted some of their favorite tweets with the hashtag.
On June 15th, the Argyll and Bute Council issued a statement both lifting the ban and announcing a School Meals Summit that would bring together catering staff, students and council officials to reevaluate school lunch plans. News of the ban’s reversal was featured on the Huffington Post, the Telegraph, BBC News and The Guardian. Martha responded on her blog thanking everyone for their help both with supporting her blog and raising money for her charity.
Argyll and Bute Council – Statement on school meals from Argyll and Bute Council
The Telegraph – Neverseconds food blog row: how the council changed its tune
NeverSeconds – I think you know why I don’t have a picture today …
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