Sometimes, as a food blogger, I am wondering how many people I reach and what kind of influence I have. Ok, I know how many people I reach thanks to the “My Stats” page on WordPress. And yes, on can get obsessed with those little gadgets, checking back so often to see if more people have visited me. But besides that, I am also wondering about how people perceive my page. Do they see it as a resource for recipes? As and inspiration to get into the kitchen and bake/cook? Are they attracted by the pictures or rather disgusted? (Some people don’t like food, right? Or at least not desserts.)
Personally, I like to believe that I better the world, at least a tiny corner of it by spreading some real good recipes. Maybe inspiring one or two people to bake and cook something they have never done before. Kind of like “If she can do that I can do that.”
Today though, I came across a story that clearly shows how much influence a food blogger can have, even a young one.
Meet Martha Payne from the area of Argyll & Bute in Scotland, Great Britain. A young 9 year old student who started a blog in April about her school lunches. She takes a pictures, rates it in and talks about her every day life. It is simple and straight forward and you can clearly see that she is interested in what goes into her body. The blog, as far as I understand it, already got some attention due to its format I would say. But that attention spiked yesterday, June 14, 2012 as Martha posted her goodbyes.
The Argyll & Bute Council apparently banned taking cameras to school, thus the blog would run dry. (Martha’s father previously asked the teachers and school if it would be ok for Martha to take pictures and it was allowed.) That was a sad day for Martha and, well, for the world of food bloggers. There is a child who is interested in food, who spreads the word about food and meals and their importance, and who got other people around the world engaged in a meaningful conversation (people have been sending there lunches to Martha so she could rate them and post them).
Can you imagine the outcry? Can you see the responses from all over the world? I personally stumbled upon this on Facebook through Jillian Michaels. The article that Mrs. Micheals linked was this one and the writer asked people to write to the council to revoke the decision. By now, this has been accomplished and there was even a meeting set up for catering staff, the pupils, councillors and council officials to take place later this summer. (I certainly hope it will happen.)
You see, we do have an influence, maybe not every single blog, maybe not world wide as this one, but I like to believe we a bringing some change.
I will follow Martha and hope to see that she will be back next week to keep writing about her lunch, her experience with food and to see some lunches from around the world.
Oh, and btw, before all the really big attention she got, she already had set up an account with “Just Giving” for “Mary Meals”, a UK based organization that provides lunch meals for school children in various countries. Since the big media hit Martha’s page ther Just Giving account went through the roof and she reached her objective and went well beyond. She wanted to raise 7,000 pounds for the organization (that’s a new kitchen to feed kids). Right now she is at £41,415.50 (as of June 15, 2012, 11:49 a.m. Saskatoon, Canada time). That’s 591% over her objective.
I call that an influence my friends.