Global hunger role for school dinners blogger Martha Payne

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SCHOOL dinner blogger Martha Payne is set to become the face of an international campaign highlighting the plight of the world’s hungry children.

The ten-year-old Scot will become an ambassador for the ‘iF’ initiative – backed by charities including Save the Children and UNICEF – which is tackling the global crisis.

The international aid agencies want to bring pressure on the world’s richest governments to tackle the problem.

Martha has now raised more than £125,000 – enough to feed 15,000 youngsters in ­Malawi for a year – with her appeal for Mary’s Meals.

Her father, David, 40, from Lochgilphead, Argyll, said she had been asked to support and appear at the iF campaign’s launch in London.

“A coalition of charities is coming together to look at world hunger, but also in the UK as well, and they have asked us to come.

“They are very keen to get children involved and Martha is one of those kids that other children are aware of and it will encourage them.

“Kids have strong ideas about what is fair and not fair in the world, and it’s good to be able to support them.”

In January all the major ­development agencies and charities including Oxfam, Comic Relief and ActionAid, will launch their iF campaign. It will climax at the June G8 in Northern Ireland.

Martha’s NeverSeconds blog – accompanied by a picture of her daily school lunch – was originally launched to raise funds for the Scottish charity, Mary’s Meals, providing children with a healthy start to the day in 16 countries.

However, it became an international sensation when Argyll and Bute Council attempted to ban it in June 2012.

Afterwards, donations to the JustGiving site jumped to more than £100,000. Supporters included celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc.

The money from Martha’s appeal, together with the sale of a book, was enough to pay for a £7,000 kitchen at the Lirangwe primary school in Blantyre, Malawi.

A further £7,000 has been given to feed all 2,000 children there for a year, and the balance will be used by the charity in its other projects.

Martha and her father travelled to see the project, at their own expense, which was recorded as part of the BBC documentary which is being broadcast again today.

David said: “I think that’s the thing with the blog – children’s food and what we serve to them, particularly at school, is really important and people talk about it round the world.

“What I think the blog has done is give a forum. But we are really grateful it reflected on to the charity as opposed to us because we’re kind of reluctant celebrities.”

Martha’s own blogging may come to an end, he said. “I am not sure what Martha’s involvement will be.” But he added that the site would continue as a “place for children from around the world to share their school dinners and also share a bit of interest in those who have less”.