back to article Council chief overrules blackout on Scots 9-yr-old's school lunch blog!

An hour after accusing a nine-year-old girl of causing distress with her "inaccurate" lunch blog, the Argyll and Bute council has overturned its cameras-in-the-canteen ban and once again allowed school children the option of photographing their lunch. School Dinner by Glasgow blogger Veg, credit Martha Payne, used with …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    £2 a day

    I still want to know why the crap being served up is costing £2 a day. The photo showed above is one of the better ones.

    1. Anomynous Coward

      Re: £2 a day

      It would be interesting to see where the money goes.

      Would people pay a tax / levy / whatever dedicated to improving the quality of school meals? I think I would.

      Mind you, it may be that we're only seeing the worst of what is provided - what's the general standard like these days, parents? (Or kids, I suppose, if any are reading).

    2. Linbox


      In a smaller primary school of 100 kids, let's assume 60% take school dinners and the rest packed lunches. Out of the £120 income, you'll have to pay 2 cooks for 6-hours work (3 prep, 1.5 service, 1.5 cleanup), at minimum wage (£6.08) = £72.96. Plus let's assume 3 lunchtime 'supervisors', for 90 mins each = £27.36 gives a total salary cost of £100.32. Leaving exactly 33p per meal for ingredients. For that much money - you get radish and macaroni 'surprise'...

      1. Anomynous Coward

        Re: Salaries

        Is that how they do these? I thought they were prepared more centrally and just shipped out and served.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Salaries

          maybe but you still need to pay people to serve the food, clean the pots etc.

        2. Code Monkey

          Re: Salaries

          "Is that how they do these? I thought they were prepared more centrally and just shipped out and served."

          Possibly in cities. Possibly not somewhere as rural as Argyll.

      2. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Salaries

        Lochgilphead is a joint campus with 750 pupils from nursery to S6.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Salaries

        as a general rule of thumb double salary costs to get real staff costs (recruitment, holidays, NI, training etc etc etc)

        Look what you get for a £2 gas station bulk manufactured sandwich for a comparison.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: £2 a day

      Ingredients for a child's lunch cost around a quid for a reasonable one and a bit more for a good one. Another 50p to a pound per day for preparation, serving and other staff costs seems OK.

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: £2 a day

      In Austrtalia the kids are priveliged to eat Vegemite out of a jar with a spoon for lunch.

      1. Alan Newbury

        Re: £2 a day

        As an Australian, I have to point out that the spoon is optional

    5. Rob Beard
      Paris Hilton

      Re: £2 a day

      I understand from my two younger daughters (aged 10 and 6) that their school meals are crap. So much so that my eldest daughter has gone onto packed lunches. Taking into consideration the £2 a day it was cosing for school dinners too it's saving us some money and she gets a much better variety of stuff.

      I'm not sure if it's just me, but I remember school dinners when I was in Primary school (25 years ago) to be pretty reasonable.


  2. david 63

    So who gets the sack?

    Thought so.

    If I brought down this kind of condemnation on the people I work for I'd last 5 minutes. If that.

    1. Anomynous Coward

      Re: So who gets the sack?

      Never mind sacking, if I encountered anyone mad enough to believe banning the kid from taking photographs of her lunch was going to make this go away I would want them sectioned.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So who gets the sack?

      It's been done.

      The top three communications officers at Argyll and Bute council were let go in the springtime. Clearly their replacements haven't been found yet and the PR is being handled by a trained monkey.

      1. Graham Bartlett

        Re: So who gets the sack?

        Having a "top" council communications officer seems something like having a "favourite" twatting-your-thumb-with-a-lump-hammer. As far as I can tell, the best you can hope for is that it doesn't cause permanent damage.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Cold semolina for all !!!

    1. Anomynous Coward

      Semolina is the one remaining thing that I have never eaten in adulthood as a result of the revolting school meals they tried to force me to eat.

      I am sure it must be possible to make it pleasant but frankly I the memory is so horrible I doubt I could even bring myself to lick it off Kelly Brook's norks.

      1. Aaron Em

        Take it from a dago

        Semolina's great. It's a shame they ruined it for you.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        ...With a dollop of Jam.


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Somolina

          Or Semolina, even..

          And whoever swapped my E and O keys, just for that minute: Don't do it again!

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: Semolina

            Semolina is fantastic. My pet hate is fish fingers. Bleurgh! I would not could not will not shall not. Even if I am a penguin. :-/

          2. Graham Bartlett

            With thanks to Ronnie Barker

            "Now I'm going to croop away to my little bod, and sed the lot of you..."

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Council in cahoots?

    Maybe this 9 yo is cleverer that we all suspected.....

    1. g e

      Re: Council in cahoots?

      Do you think she might have a den at home with oak-panelled walls, a fluffy cat and a map of the world with blinking lights on it?

      ** Jealous! **

      1. david 63

        Re: Council in cahoots?

        It did occur to me.

    2. Code Monkey
      Thumb Up

      Re: Council in cahoots?

      If she can convince council officials to make a complete arse of themselves to raise £21k for charity, she's clearly a genius.

      1. Anomynous Coward

        Re: Council in cahoots?

        "If she can convince council officials to make a complete arse of themselves to raise £21k for charity, she's clearly a genius."

        Well, the ban was implemented by some faceless, nameless official, whereas revoking the bans gets good headlines for the leader so who knows?

        At least a local (locally run, global in scope) charity that seems to be pretty bloody awesome is getting a wedge.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Council in cahoots?

          "the ban was implemented by some faceless, nameless official, whereas revoking the bans gets good headlines for the leader"

          More people need to actually read Machiavelli. Paraphrasing, he recommends "get you underlings to make themselves unpopular, then make yourself popular by punishing them for it".

      2. Steve Knox
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Council in cahoots?

        "If she can convince council officials to make a complete arse of themselves ..."

        I was not aware that that was considered a difficult task.

        1. Robert E A Harvey

          Re: Council in cahoots?

          >I was not aware that that was considered a difficult task.

          One council round-by-ere gave itself planning permission on a chunk of land it owned, and then sold it off to a developer. part of the planning process is a purely nominal but legally required pass through the relevant Parish Council. After work started, it was pointed out that they hadn't passed it to the correct parish. Now no-one knows if the planning permission is legal or not.

      3. davidp231

        Re: Council in cahoots?

        Total's now at 51k since this morning (Saturday).

        I think whoever decided the ban was a good idea should be one of the first up against the wall when the Revolution comes.

  5. jai


    i have a real hankering for jelly now

    not so much for macaroni and raddishes....

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: jelly!!!!

      I'll swap you my jelly for your macaroni

  6. Anonymous Coward

    The Internet still works!

    With all the commercial activities going on I think its a very pleasant and different sight to see a mere blog causing an uproar like this. And not only that; but also causing changes in the school policies regarding the cafeteria food.

    And all by merely pictures and a story from a 9 year old.

    So when the upper brass did what they do best, namely bullying (IMO), the Internet "fought back".

    And then all of a sudden people start to realize that they actually opened up Pandora's box.

    Gotta love the power of the pen, backed by the Internet!

    1. Anomynous Coward

      Re: The Internet still works!

      causing changes in the school policies regarding the cafeteria food

      Has it done that? They seemed to indicate they hadn't actually changed anything since the blog had been up (refuting claims to the contrary).

      1. Hayden Clark Silver badge

        Re: The Internet still works!

        Take a look at the pictures she took. The first few showed some pretty woeful meals, the later ones looked pretty OK. Also - note the "special lady in the white coat and hairnet" who was inspecting the food for several days later on.

        I'd guess they upped their game somewhat in the face of the exposure!

        1. TRT Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The Internet still works!

          I love the one where she forgot her camera, so drew a picture instead. Pure. Genius.

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Web outrage == WUTRAGE!

            ROW! ROW! FIGHT THE POWER!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              What, as in argue, or as in, a boat?

              1. Archie Woodnuts

                Re: ROW?

                As in doing the impossible and kicking reason to the kerb.

    2. Anonymous IV

      Re: The Internet still works!

      Mildly interesting to note that, for the villains of the piece (not villeins of the peace), Argyll & Bute Council, an anagram of 'Argyll Bute' is 'Great Bully'...!

  7. Spoonsinger

    I never thought my school dinners were that great,

    but at least they came on separate plates, (i.e. collect main course, then go up for pudding after), and did look edible - well infinitely more edible that that slop. How did it come to this?

    1. OzBob
      Thumb Up

      Re: I never thought my school dinners were that great,

      I want my dinners to come in the teddy-bear shaped dishes she found. And I don't care than I am a 40-something male. (thats years, not stones).

  8. ukgnome
    Thumb Up

    I applaud the whole community that has sent a complaint off to the council and has commented and blogged and tweeted.

    This shows that the IT sector has a heart of gold. I salute everyone who has commented positively and will happily buy any of you a pint that complained to the council. All of this was achieved without an Anonymous DDOS so even more kudos to us techie types!

  9. Captain Hogwash

    Nutrition sorted. Now for numeracy.

    "...over £21k, ..., and almost three times the goal of £7k"

  10. Tom 35
    Thumb Up

    Good for Martha

    She will get better food* (at least until things die down).

    The local council made themselves look like fools.

    Mary's Meals got a nice boost.

    *If you look at the blog it was not always saying bad things about the food, she often gave 9/10. But there were also some really poor 4/10 meals.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's been rather interesting to follow development of this "story" since VEG last night blogged about ban.

    Her blog page views have jumped from 2 million to now already over 3 million and donations for marys meals gone from £2000 to over £30000 already. Power of the internet...

    It was clear Streisand Effect will happen :) And it seems Argyll and Bute managed to get even in wikipedia about it this. Been waiting if that happens today, and it did.

  12. Been there, done that, it never ends

    Math issues also

    "helped it raise over £21k, well over the £2k it had raised as of this morning, and almost three times the goal of £7k"- last time I checked, 21 was three times seven, not almost three.

    1. Alex C

      Re: Math issues also

      Giving the author the benefit of the doubt, we all know that 2+2=5 for large values of 2 (e.g.2.3) and 2+2 = 3 of r small values of 2 (eg.g 1.7). Probably a rounding error in there that' wasn't worth the explanation.

      Happily the total earlier was £48k+, so I have no doubt they'll eventually raise enough for 7 kitchens. Good luck to them and if Argyll and Bude want more efficiently priced meals perhaps dedicate some of the school week to horticulture. Every kid should leave school with some practical experience of raising veg.

      1. MrZoolook

        Re: Math issues also

        Quote: Giving the author the benefit of the doubt, we all know that 2+2=5 for large values of 2 (e.g.2.3) and 2+2 = 3 of r small values of 2 (eg.g 1.7). Probably a rounding error in there that' wasn't worth the explanation.

        In the same way that pi=3 right?

        On a serious note, are declining standards in school meals THAT big an issue when their teaching standards are in FAR more rapid decline... see the above examples for evidence of that! When I left school, no matter how many times you worked it out... 2+2 always equalled 4.

  13. Jediben

    Viral marketing campaign in motion

    I'm waiting for it to be revealed that lil Martha is in fact the product of the twisted minds of Saatchi & Saatchi, designed to inflate the sales of those delightful plastic meal trays...

  14. WorkingFromHome


    I've just picked my 9yr old son up from school and asked him to comment on these - rather worryingly he says these meals are pretty much the same as he gets.

    Time to get him back to packed lunch I think - even a basic sarnie and apple is far better than that crap!

    1. Wize

      Re: Urgh

      Tempted to use the old "photos or it didn't happen"

      Lets get photos of school meals from all over the UK online. Lets see how they compare?

      It would be nice to get the quality of meals included on school information. So when parents are choosing what school they are sending their children to, they aren't just thinking of average marks but health too.

      Although that wont do anything to improve the food standard in the low end schools.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    looking at that picture

    i dunno if they need Jamie Oliver, the NSPCC or CSI...

    poor kids

    1. sisk

      Re: looking at that picture

      Nobody needs Jamie Oliver. He's either an idiot or a liar. His complete misrepresentation of lean finely textured ground beef has cost us greatly. Decent quality beef is now more expensive than it should be and a lot of people have lost their jobs, all because he either can't be bothered to learn about a process before badmouthing it or is willing to lie his arse off to wrongfully make people listen to him.

      </rant> Sorry, I know a lot of good folks who are out of work because of that man.

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: looking at that picture

        Lean finely textured i.e. pink slime right :) A bit late to rebrand it.

      2. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: looking at that picture


        Good Grief.

        That's the first time I've seen that phrase - "lean finely textured ground beef" - after looking it up I'm glad there's no demand for it any more.

        Pink slime indeed.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: looking at that picture

        "Sorry, I know a lot of good folks who are out of work because of that man."

        Well, if they were pushing shit onto kids I'm not overly worried.

        I've turned down jobs because I did not find them ethical.

        1. sisk

          Re: looking at that picture

          Pink slime it is not. I've seen it with my own eyes many times. You'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between it and a lean roast that's taken a double trip through a meat grinder. There's nothing unethical about it or unhealthy about it. The ammonia content that everyone complains about is actually lower than the same stuff in cheese. It is NOT, as Mr. Oliver claims, from the inedible portions of the cow. It's the stuff that's so close to the bone that you can't easily remove it with a knife. As for being unappetizing, frankly I'd rather eat it than the greasy crap that schools have to buy to get the same amount of beef now for the same price.

          Before you go complaining about something try actually learning about it. That's something that no one who complained about 'pink slime' ever bothered to do.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    El Reg, please update the original article with a note pointing to this one, sometimes people will read stories years later and news articles can even be sources for things and stuff. Imagine if a few years from now another school bans cameras in the canteen and cites your article as precedent!

    So anyway, does anyone else wonder if the father has more input into the blog than is let on? As the family have previously made a complaint regarding school meals and all.

    I'm going AC for this because I know someone's going to take exception.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: update:

      No exception taken, he probably did. End .. means etc.

      I had a similar thought. Somebody else mentioned there had been no comment from the farther. He seems smart, he knew he didn't need to say anything. The politards would do the job for him.

    2. vagabondo

      Re: update:

      > As the family have previously made a complaint regarding school meals and all

      According to the Council statement, the only complaint they have received was during the course of this blog. I think that you need to pay more attention to your comprehension and communication skills.

      Perhaps you could ask for help at your local primary school? Or you could start a trainee journalist blog, and ask Martha and David Payne for feedback?

  17. Rampant Spaniel

    Now they need to apologise to Veg. She told the truth and got shit on by people she is supposed to have respect for.

    They could save a fortune in electric by harnessing the vast quantities of energy expelled by elected officials making about turns on their decisions. Coupled with harnessing all their hot air we could be entirely carbon (although not BS) neutral.

    Then they need to ensure that each day the food is up to scratch. Looking at her blog, the food varied from reasonable to trash. They need to move it back in house, give the staff the resources to deliver decent quality food from actual ingredients. If it costs a little extra then so be it. Better to pay 2.50 for a good meal then waste 2.00 on a bad one. As the quality goes up more kids might eat it driving down the staffing costs.

    Fwiw meals here at my kids school are 3 bucks a not bad although we chose packed lunch to make sure she got decent food.

    Sometimes spreadshytes and outsourcing aren't appropriate. It's all too easy to look at a saving and ignore the actual cost of that saving.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Hehe a downvote, that communications chief at work again! Either that or the chief politard had the IT dept show him how to get off the pr0n sites and use the downvote button.

    2. Andy Livingstone

      Elected Officials

      Sorry, the crass decision was made by jumped-up clerks in kilts, employees of a "Local Authority". Too much sense of authority coupled with negligible common sense combined to avoid a battle with the "Daily Record" by bullying a 9 year old child instead.

      Scottish children seek to avoid blame with the cry "It wisnae me; a big boy did it and ran away" Employees of Argyll & Bute Council howling that in the night? Sackings? Fat chance.

      A Council that brings Scotland into disrepute.

      FOI request to determine exactly how many emails, faxes, phone calls were received at Lochgilphead?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    being cynical...

    I am sure that "professional marketeers" (yuk!) have been following the story closely, and holding brainstorming sessions on how to apply this "case" to what they try to peddle. No, I don't know HOW this can be adopted, but rest assured, adopt they will :(

  19. pPPPP


    That meal in the picture looks rather nice. They're even given her some membrillo to go with her macaroni carbanara.

    I do wonder how many people have looked up where Argyll and Bute is today.

    1. Andy Livingstone

      Re: Mmmm

      Not for holiday booking. Certainly not the ones who were showing it as "Argyll & Bude".

  20. John Latham

    That looks quite tasty....

    ...apart from the bell peppers. There is no acceptable culinary use for bell peppers.

    Top tip for getting young kids to eat broccoli: get them to pretend that they're giants eating trees.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: That looks quite tasty....

      Very true. Branding and bribery works to your advantage! I used to bribe mine to eat carrots by giving her cheese, and rebranding milk as super special white milk worked wonders. Plus just setting a good example helps.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Top tip for getting young kids to eat broccoli

      Cook it properly! I hated broccoli myself because it was usually tough rubbery gristle. No amount of bullshit covers that up.

      I got some by accident at a local restaurant where they know how to steam them properly so they're delicious tender moist little bundles of delight. Now I love them.

    3. James Hughes 1

      Re: That looks quite tasty....@Bell peppers

      Agreed. There is no use for these 'vegetables' at all. I've been informed that they were in fact modelled on Satan's testicles * , hence coming in red, green and orange.

      *by God, during the 6 days he bothered to spend creating the Earth - we got fecking west highland terriers in that 6 days too - another thing with no discernible use.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: That looks quite tasty....@Bell peppers

        Why the hatred for Bells? Besides, I'll bet you eat 'em without knowing it. Like Caribbean cuisine? Much of it has a base called "Sofrito", which contains Bells. Likewise a lot of Italian soups and sauces start with sauteing a fine dice of bell, carrot, onion and garlic in butter & olive oil.

        Ever use paprika? That's the result of drying & milling various varietals of Bell.

        Oh, and they are fruits, not vegetables. I usually have a dozen or so varietals, in a rainbow of colo(u)rs growing. Think of it as a flavo(u)r enhancer, or spice, not a main course.

        There is no God. We are a fluke of the universe[1].

        (Side note: It ain't the Westie that's the problem. The problem is that most Westie owners are fucking[2] morons who don't understand that the word "Terrior" has a meaning ... )

        [1] STR, win a beer :-)

        [2] Just use the fucking word, dude/tte.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If these school dinners are being slated for being disgusting I'd like to see how photos of the meals Mary dishes up to starving kids compare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Slop in a cup

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Slop in a cup

        One girl, two cups. >:-D

  22. Chad H.

    Well Well Well

    It looks like they became the Bute of all jokes.....

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    over 21 is almost three times 7?

    the publicity appears to have helped it raise over £21k, well over the £2k it had raised as of this morning, and almost three times the goal of £7k

    Someone was out to lunch during the arithmetic class

  24. Znort666

    It worked...

    the ban has been lifted...

  25. Werner McGoole

    I guess...

    ...they momentarily forgot that the little girl was a customer. That sort of thing seems to happen a lot in local government.

    1. Andy Livingstone

      Re: I guess...

      Don't forget that Argyll & Bute see themselves as a "Local Authority" No customers there, just grovelling subjects.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love the smell of napalm at dinnertime!

    It's the smell of victory...

  27. toadwarrior

    She paid for it so it is hers and she should be able to take pictures. That said it is only £2.00. It is not going to look awesome but is it a nutritious meal? That is what counts.

    1. Chad H.

      I can get 2 Admirals Pie or Mariners Pie at Farmfoods for £1.50 that look great, taste great, and are quite nutritious too.

  28. Bradley Hardleigh-Hadderchance

    That little bitch causing distress...

    I caused distress to someone once. They kidnapped me, tied me to a chair and tortured me for 2 days.

    Unfortunately I escaped by diving out of a third floor window, breaking every appendage still attached to my body (only two thank god) and killing an unwary cat that just happened to be foraging for food in a nearby dustbin.

    And this is the really unlucky bit. A conscientiousness passer by called the police. Even more unbelievable still, they were 'in the vicinity' and this is the real clincher: happened to make 'several arrests'.

    So you see it was a catalog of errors from start to finish.

    When I was wheeled into court to give evidence was when I had my 'epiphany'. Those poor chaps, facing the prospect of six months chokey (about the going rate for kidnap and torture these days?) 3 months of living hell, with otherwise good behaviour. I buckled. I couldn't do it to them. No Way Hose could I cause them that amount of DISTRESS! I lied, I told them it was all my idea. It was just a sex game gone wrong....


    Distress? Distress? Let me tell you what Distress is. Distress is paying 2 frigging quid for a plate of shit like that. That's what distress is. Being made to eat it is tantamount to torture. Me thinks there is a little too much kicky kicky backy going on in the bowels of power up there in good old Argyll and Bute Council. There is no way at the economies of scale they have with their buying power that what is on that plate even comes to One Pound. Naughty naughty.

    And I like the little damage limitation touch on their website of:


    Please click here if you would like to ask a question or make a comment regarding the NeverSeconds Blog.


    Sent straight to /dev/null I shouldn't wonder.

    So they decided to teach the little whistleblowing bitch a lesson and get Orwellian on her arse.

    And they would have got away with it too if it wasn't for that pesky internet....

    Over £38,000 raised so far. What a marvelous little girl. What great human qualities. They tried to crush her but her spirit was too strong, she fought for a dream that she believed in. A better world for little black children.


    Seriously, where is all the money going that is being skimmed off on providing meals for these kids?

    1. Zombie Womble

      Re: That little bitch causing distress...

      "What a marvelous little girl."

      Who you called a little bitch, twice!

    2. MrZoolook

      Re: That little bitch causing distress...

      Quote: Seriously, where is all the money going that is being skimmed off on providing meals for these kids?

      Books, pencils, heating, hiring quality teachers from abroad... that kinda stuff!

  29. FanMan

    An Oldie Recalls

    These "meals" are just pitiful. I attended a Scottish comprehensive (the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway) throughout the 60's and was fed much better than that. Lentil soup, beef rissoles with peas, cabbage, and mash, followed by sponge and custard ("doorstep and dishwater") was a typical elevenpenny lunch, as I recall. A child might have departed stupefied but not malnourished.

    There is something very wrong here. (I wonder what these Outer Hebridean canteen ladies are serving up these days....).

    1. FanMan

      Re: An Oldie Recalls

      PS. Your basic stockbroker belt gastro-pub fare, in fact!

    2. John McCallum

      Re: An Oldie Recalls

      Oh the good old days,fond memories of school dinners.I had the same sort of choice at several schools in Fife,some had their own kitchens some were supplied from central district kitchens so the meals were overall cheaper to make and a lot better than these.On a some what related subject when I joined The Forces in the late '60s the ration allowance per man was something like £5 per week and at least in the RN you got prety good if plain food three times a day plus a mid morning snack if wanted.Beer 'cos we got that instead of the Rum ration.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: An Oldie Recalls

        When I was doing my O-levels[1], my form's common room was the home-ec room. After a week or so of "school dinners"[2], I started bringing in raw ingredients and cooking for myself. Over the space of a couple weeks, pretty much my entire form were bringing in ingredients to turn into food ... most of them had no idea how to cook, but seemed to like my take on it. The kids would volunteer to bring random stuff in, and I'd develop a menu and show 'em how to turn it into dinner ... Was a lot of fun :-)

        We always tidied up, the home-ec teacher didn't twig that "her" kitchen was being used until she showed up mid dinner-hour to set-up for a particularly complex demonstration. She threw a conniption fit ... and called in the Headmaster. The Head came in & looked at what we were doing (home-made spinach, chicken, ricotta and tyme ravioli & chopped tomato sauce, with a tossed salad, and several Hovis loaves from the local baker's son, along with a couple chunks of hard cheese & unsalted butter from one of a local dairy's kids).

        She was all "How dare the Yank use my kitchen!" ... The Head commented that it looked like I was doing a better job of teaching cooking skills than she was, told her to go away, and joined us for dinner! We were allowed to continue, but were advised to keep mum on the subject. We often served our teachers dinner after that ... and the Home-ec teacher hated me. On the advice of the Head, I sat the home-ec O without taking any lessons, and received an A ... two years later, he advised me to similarly sit the A, but I declined ... I already had a full schedule.

        When I entered the lower 6th, our common room included a proper kitchen ... Our 6th form Headmaster came in on the first day of school and had us all sit in alphabetical order, alternating boy-girl, front to back, teacher's right to left. I took the same seat I had had since I first got to the school ... but the Head grabbed me & sat me on a bar-stool in the kitchen. In his Glasgae accent, he said "There's your rightful seat, laddie". The new 6th-formers who hadn't been part of my O-level form gave me shit for a couple days (Apparently, men didn't cook in Yorkshire) ... until they realized that cheap good-eats were to be found ...

        My A levels? Pretty much the same as my Os ... mostly science & Maths related. But you still gotta know how to feed yourself. And sometimes you need to jump over the counter & pour your own coffee. To this day, I couldn't tell you how I managed to pass 'em all, and Graduate from Highschool in California, with all the jumping back and forth across the pond my family did ... Gut feeling is that blowing off steam in the kitchen helped :-)

        [1] Harrogate, early-mid-70s ... I'm still in touch with about half my classmates.

        [2] Note to my fellow Yanks: read "lunch" instead of "dinner".

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: An Oldie Recalls

          heh some men didn't cook in Yorkshire, plenty of us did. Then again I was further north than you. As you say, you have to eat.

    3. MrZoolook

      Re: An Oldie Recalls

      Quote: These "meals" are just pitiful. I attended a Scottish comprehensive (the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway) throughout the 60's and was fed much better than that. Lentil soup, beef rissoles with peas, cabbage, and mash, followed by sponge and custard ("doorstep and dishwater") was a typical elevenpenny lunch, as I recall

      In fairness, back then we didn't get asshole TV chefs turning everyday food staples into gourmet food every time you turn the TV on. Nowadays, the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, Anthony Whorrel-Thompson et all, have taken good cheap food ingredients, and put their names to them so everything costs 3 times as much. Even un-endorsed foods have increased to loan-inducing prices simply because something similar was featured in last months Readers Digest!

      Schools (or rather the schools bedgetory governing bodies) are not immune to these increases. The result is lower quality meals. The crime isn't that the quality has gone downhill, it's that the quality has been driven downhill by a combination of budget cuts (not only for meals, but basic teaching tools like books, school libraries, pens and paper) and ass-hat chefs who put their names on basic food items for money, which is paid for by the consumer (householders AND school boards alike) in increased prices!

      (rant over for now)

  30. Rampant Spaniel

    Somebody commented on the Mary's Meals. From the look of it they might want to outsource to her. From the website


    It costs just £10.70 (US$16.80) to feed a child in school for a whole year. This is the average cost worldwide. In Malawi, the children are given a mug of Likuni Phala, maize porridge with soya, vitamins and malt extract


    That's probably a damn sight more nutritious than some (and I grant you not all) of the food she had. The comments re the pictures not being representative is BS. They are perfectly representative of what a child has for lunch. They demonstrate the variety over time. They demonstrate the portion sizes. She also did a great job of putting a positive spin on a lot of the food. She was very impartial, any criticism her blog caused was well deserved. I would be very interested to see her take some pictures of the canteen and the salad bar etc.

    And school toad in the hole with baked beans and mash! mmmm That was awesome after rugby (you know, back before they banned rugby at our school because it was terribly dangerous).

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Where the system went wrong!

    When I started at both my primary and secondary schools they employed an actual proper cook, bought in ingredients and made everything on site. In both cases a couple of years later they dropped this because it was too expensive, at which point the quality of the meals rapidly nose dived.

    In secondary school I used to be able to go in and get a very nice Panini and hot chocolate at break for £2, and a lasagna (or similar), sponge with custard (or similar) and coffee for £2.65. All tasted nice, and were nutritious. Since changing to county supplied meals the paninis have been replaced with microwaved cheese toasties (because apparently even employing someone to put cheese on some bread and into a toaster is too much), the lunches are horrible and they halved the number of servers so it takes ages.

    Even worse they've stopped putting espresso in the drinks machines, so when you drag yourself up to the canteen and press espresso the machine just beeps infuriatingly at you.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Where the system went wrong!

      I was at school in Basildon in the 60s, and refused to eat every single meal they served me.

      I was actually caned for it on several occasions.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it can get worse

    Low cost/cheap (lowest bidder) isnt the best system for everything, nutrition values and quality aside let's not forget that in 2005 contaminated meat was served at over 40 schools in South Wales, the result was widespread illness and the death of a child.

  33. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Update update...


    790% of target


  34. Camilla Smythe


    Last Check Apparently she is just £5,000 shy of her £70,000 target.

    Corrections accepted... Meh.

    Go Girl Go.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pfftt

      I think youldd find the target is 7000

      1. Camilla Smythe

        Re: Pfftt

        Yes.. well I did ask for corrections.


        Martha is standing at 11 [Eleven] Kitchens..... As opposed to the original wished for 10 [Ten]

        ... corrections accepted.

        Which rather puts Mr Arthur 'Two Sheds' Jackson in his place.

        I'd suggest that is worthy of a mention in 'The Guinness Book of Records' under the, soon to be created....

        'Most Money Generated for Charity by Local JobsWorth.'

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Council should publish their own photos if they object to hers

    Rather than try to ban anything (we all saw how quickly that was revoked), the council and school should reveal the budget constraints the lunch program is operated under and publish their own photos of all the meal choices. Open the books and reveal everything - then ask the critics to do better.

    Open communication wins friends. Censorship loses.

  36. Spider


    serve that crap up in a prison and see just how quick you get a riot...

  37. rav
    Thumb Up


    Apparently there is nothing so ferocious and feared as a wee 9 year old girl with her camera.

    Martha Payne can now stand proudly in the company of other Scottish heroes as Bonnie Prince Charlie, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace who I wager are all spinning in their graves at the antics of the lily livered pantywaists that their descendents have become.

    I would imagine that Ms. Payne should have a right to photograph her food where ever it is doled out as a journalist. All she did was highlight the shame of her teachers.

  38. aiop


    Great little story this. Blown up into proportions too big to fit the prison issue type plastic plate the school uses by the looks of thngs.

    So blogs, like phone in's to radio stations (sometimes), are the new way of getting redress to some social situations, might even result in some sackings maybe?

    One thing is that it illustrates just how nervous and reactionary modern management is to a scrap of publicity, causing tremors and worries and concerns from being unable to control things as much as they'd like.

  39. Paul_Murphy


    Enough for a complete kitchen and 5800 meals ( - what started as a girls hobby has led to councils (don't think that it's only her council that has taken note of this) not being able to stifle what they see as potential criticism.

    VEG isn't a heroine, but she should be rightly praised for her efforts and dedication, which has led to a chance of good food for lots of other children and a little more freedom here in the UK.

    'Mary's Meals asked me what I would like to call the kitchen and I said 'Friends of NeverSeconds' because if it was just me I would never have managed to raise enough but now we have!'


    Well done the internets!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How sad

    This nice young girl is clueless even though she has the world handed to her, yet she still complains. I'll bet starving people all over the world would be damn thankful to have ONE healthy meal everyday.

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