9-year-old’s lunch blog shames school into making changes
Martha Payne had some sad-ass lunches at her school in Scotland — unsatisfying food that sometimes had more hair than vegetables. So the 9-year-old decided to start a blog with photos and vital statistics about her meals. Almost immediately, the blog got international attention, including from prominent school lunch busybody Jamie Oliver. Result? Martha’s dad just met with the local council, and it announced that kids could have unlimited salad, fruit, and bread.
For each of her lunches, Martha rated taste, healthiness, and pieces of hair (usually zero but not always). But she only managed five ratings before the media attention started making the school self-conscious:
Today was very different at lunchtime. Dad had already told me beforehand that some people from the Council were coming to lunch with a reporter from our local paper. There was also a new system for ordering food which I’ll explain when I understand it more. I didn’t see the visitors having lunch but I saw them hovering about and watching us getting served.
For the first time ever I have seen at lunch cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrot and cucumber shreddings.
You can see vegetables getting more prominent on Martha’s plate over the course of the blog. Here’s her lunch from the day when the council officially announced unlimited fruits and vegetables:
Health rating 9/10, bitchezzz!
In the U.S., people mainly worry that schoolkids eat too much lunch, not too little. But there are really a lot of intersecting issues — quantity, quality, even efficiency (my sense from the blog is that Martha is getting rushed through the lunch queue assembly-line-style, with little chance to choose her food). Schools do a lot of ugly calculations, weighing kids’ health against cost and expediency. But apparently, making that public is sometimes all it takes to force a change.
I hope Martha enjoys her unlimited salads (and her brownie, which she said was “better than Dad’s”). And I hope the school council enjoys the taste of crow.
Get Grist in your inbox