On a day when we all think about food, I want to revisit, and update, my favorite food-related story of the year.
Constant readers may remember, from back in June, the story of 9-year-old Martha Payne of Scotland. Her blog “Never Seconds,” featuring photographs of her unhealthy school lunches, caused so much embarrassment in her school district that the county council tried to shut her down. The news of their mendacious unfairness rippled across the media and the Internet, and hundreds of thousands of people — including a number of celebrities, and thousands of Superbug readers — applied enough pressure to get the decision reversed.
Martha (whom I’ve never met) seems to be a smart, sensible kid, with caring, thoughtful parents; her mother is a primary-care doctor, and her father has a small farm. With rare maturity, they resisted enormous pressure to monetize her celebrity, and turned the attention into a benefit for someone else.
Actually, lots of someones. They asked readers and supporters to donate to a charity, Mary’s Meals, that feeds schoolchildren in some of the world’s poorest areas — including Malawi, where Scottish roots date back to the arrival of explorer David Livingstone in the 1860s. At this point, five months later, Martha and her family have raised £120,000 (almost $200,000), enough to build a kitchen and distribute school supplies to thousands of kids.