Sunday 24 March 2013

Meeting Madam President Dr Banda of Malawi

On Monday I travelled with my dad to Edinburgh to speak at an event organised by the Scotland Malawi Partnership. Because Presidents are so busy when they visit other countries we weren't sure if Dr Joyce Banda would be able to come to the event. She did and she was wonderful.

M- I started my blog NeverSeconds as a writing project to show people what my school dinners were like. I know how important school lunches are for children in Malawi too. My grandpa is a Mary’s Meals volunteer and we often talked about how a school dinner can bring kids to school and give them the energy to learn.

D- Overnight Martha’s blog became popular and people responded from around the world. Adults remembered their school dinners, children sent in photos of theirs and a debate started about the quality of school food.

M- Someone commented on my blog that ‘I was lucky to have food at all because some children have none’. I decided the best thing was to write about Mary’s Meals and try and raise some money to build a school kitchen in Malawi. When my blog was banned it was terrible but I was very happy that people supported me by making lots of donations.

D- We found ourselves in a media storm. Journalists from around the world wanted to talk to the nine year old girl who had beaten the ban. All Martha wanted to tell them about was the kids in Lirangwe and the kitchen that was going to be built. Martha practises her friendship skills every day in the busy playground at her school and it was only a small jump for her to name the kitchen ‘Friends of NeverSeconds’. When we were invited to visit the kitchen I was worried it was a long way. Martha was worried she’d be too tired to make new friends!

M- I made brilliant friends in Malawi. I spent a day with Ben who is my age. His home is different to mine but we do so many similar things. His family grow food like mine. We both have to do jobs and I think his are harder. I tried to carry water on my head but I kept spilling it. Ben started to spill his because he was laughing at me! We went to his school together and had lessons and played games. Ben shared everything with me and I will remember him always.

D- It was great watching all the kids together. They don’t worry about language or clothes they just care about smiles and fun. Since 2005, more than 200 Scottish schools have established partnerships with Malawi. Each of these educational links is underpinned by mutual respect and understanding, by friendship and solidarity. Each year, hundreds of young Scots and Malawians get the chance to visit their partner school, experiencing a new culture, a different way of life, and cementing the friendship which has existed between our two nations for over 150 years.

M- - The head teacher in Lirangwe School was so like my head teacher. She was really proud of her learners and her school. It made me nervous to paint the ‘Friends of NeverSeconds’ kitchen sign because I know they will all see it every day and I wanted it to be perfect for them. I helped to share out the Likuni Phala. Everything went quiet as all the children ate their lunch and when they finished it became extra noisy just like at my school. The biggest difference is my dinner ladies don’t sing when cooking my school dinner!

D- Our family has made strong bonds with Malawi through our new friends. These are friends we could only make because of the existing bonds between our countries. 85,000 Scots and 148,000 Malawians are linked through partnerships and all our lives are enriched as a result.

M- When I started my blog, I thought my own school food was the most important thing about it. I now know the most important thing is the friends it has brought together and the help we have given each other. I think about my friend Ben often. I think about him and his Mary’s Meal, about him carrying water and about how he wants to be President when he grows up. I don’t want to be First Minster when I grow up but I do want to be Ben’s friend.

Thank you.

I really enjoyed the event despite being nervous. Afterwards I spoke with some senior girls from Leith Academy and I hope I will be doing as much as they are when I am their age. There are lots of people in Scotland thinking of their friends in Malawi. It is good.

Madam President and I had a chance to talk at Edinburgh Castle with Alex Salmond the First Minister of Scotland. He invited me to blog my dinner and I will. It was a very special evening.


Friday 8 March 2013

and finally my favourite

This isn't just my favourite. It's the most important school meal I have ever seen.

It was cooked by a Mary's Meals volunteer at one of their under 6 centres in Blantyre, Malawi. It is nsima, which is made from maize flour, and fish from Lake Malawi. I didn't want to try it because it was for the children but the volunteers were proud and I didn't want to offend them. It was delicious.

Food-o-meter- 10/10
Mouthfuls- I only tried a couple
Course- main
Health Rating- 10/10
Price- I think less than 10p
Pieces of hair- 0

I miss my friends in Malawi and think of them often. It's a special year because it's the 200th anniversary of David Livingstone's birth. He was a Scottish explorer and the friendship he made between Scotland and Malawi is still special today. There are lots of celebrations and if I make it to some I'll tell you all about it!

thank you and I hope you enjoyed International School Meals Day,


Staying in Japan......

This is one of my favourite posts. I love all the different meals and how people dress and prepare them. I even guessed the winner!

Thank you Doni.


Hello everyone. Doni is here.

Thank you very much for deeply-appreciated message.
Arigato gozaimasu. And I'm sorry for my terrible at English. I was a student with poor English. As you might know, my best subject was the lunch time at school.

Our School lunch menu for Thursday;

Rice, Simmered Chicken and Konjak with Miso. Deep Fied Chicken, Boiled Japanese Mustard Spinach, and Milk. The above Mustard Spinach is grown at local.

Food-o-meter- 8/10
Health rating- 8/10
Bites- unknown
Courses- Rice, 3 sides
Price- JPY234yen (Approx. US$2.9 £1.8 )
Pieces of hair- 0

Today another school dietician who is my friend sent me a picture for Martha’s Project.

Cooked Rice Chinese Style, Vermicellifine Noodle Soup (Soup of somen noodles and various ingredients in a soy sauce broth), Meat Ball with White Sesame, Grape Jelly, and Milk.

Our school served a lunch for 188 days a school year. It is hard work to menu which is concerned balance of nutrition, calories, like and dislike of children and more.

School dietician should to raise a child to become a healthy eater. It is big challenge for them. Dieticians are thinking about what children liked, what they didn't like, what kindthey liked and what they didn't mind but would rather not eat.

Yes, Dieticians are checking kitchen waste every day, and they peep in to see what children are doing at lunch time. And so dieticians develop a game plan.

OK. Today, I introduce school lunch contest in Japan. It is called Kyushoku Koshien.

(Opening ceremony of the school lunch contest)

This tournament is designed to encourage local production for local consumption and that through the tournament to compete on behalf of the regional dishes are offered in school meals across the country to educate about healthy eating. This year the seventh contest will be held at Tokyo in December.

I usually cosponsor this contest to sneak into the contest room.

Contestants are 12 school (included central kitchen) representative of 6 region of across Japan. Players are School dietician and cooks in pairs.

(Immediately before the final, Contestants check their own uniform)

Criteria of the contestants are as follows;
-Menu what you have previously provided as school meals before the date of the finals.
-That according to the Ministry of Education Reference Intakes for school meals.
-Local products to be a menu that uses local products, taking advantage of the features that.
-It has been used as a teaching tool, live food education
-Nutrients and amount (in the case of elementary school students and volume for middle grade) that is correct
-It is the menu that nurture children love joy regional
-Cook 6 meals servings within 60 minutes
-Cooking and sanitation management process to follow standards of school meals and health management
-The application form attached a picture of the menu.

I think it is so hard to cook 6 meals within 60 minutes.

But they do that. OK, I show you all lunch menu of final contestants in 2011. I bet you will be surprised with them.

1) Iwate

2) Ibaralki

3) Fukushima

4) Gunma

5) Toyama

6) Wakayama

7) Nagano

8) Kagawa

9) Kochi

10) Kagoshima

11) Okinawa

12) Gifu

Please guess who won.

Ah. These menus are special for contest. Please don't believe menu like the above is served every day.

Bento Boxes- Japan

I am not listing these top ten in any order but I love the look of Japanese food!


Dear VEG and VEG's Dad,

I'm from Tokyo, Japan. Your blogs interested me very much. And I admire your activity for Mary's Meals.

Since about "bento" has become the topic of comments, I would like to present two photo for Veg's blogs readers.
Bento is being used in various situations in Japan from former times. For trip, picnic, of course for school lunch, and also Hanami(cherry blossom viewing), Sumo viewing(Sumo is the traditional Japanese wrestling), and Kabuki theatergoing(Kabuki is a traditional theatrical drama).

One photo is the most traditional old style bento-box which was made of gold lacker in 18th century. This contains four lunch boxes, a equipment box and two bottles for Sake(rice wine).

Another one is a bento for Hanami. This cuisine style is carried out today in Japan.

Best regards,
Tadami Yamada

The most colourful plate from Israel

Today we are going to Tel Aviv in Israel. (1 minute 25 seconds, it was really hard!) Ziva emailed me and said Boker Tov! (That means "Good Morning" in Hebrew)so Boker Tov Ziva!

Her lunch was 'falafel, which is ground down chickpeas and fava beans, with pita chips and yoghurt and cucumber sauce, with green leaves and onion. It was a really good food and I always enjoy it. We also get dessert (I could not take a picture as you only get it if you have finished all your first course) which we are able to take with us. This day I had a kichlach which is a type of cookie. Through the day we also have 2 snacks, for which we are allowed to get as much fruit or salad as we like, I normally have סָלָט יְרָקוֹת יִשְׂרְאֵלִ (Israeli vegetable salad) which is small cucumber and tomatoes. Or fruit. We pay for school lunch with school tuition but i believe it translates or 12 shekel per day which is almost 2 pounds.
Shalom! (That means Peace, but also Hello or Goodbye)'

I love Ziva's colourful plate. Every other plate I have seen is white. The pretty plate and place mat make the food look so much nicer and I bet it tastes great. I like colour!




Veg here!

Good morning to Enzo Buzz and Giorgio Bros in Sao Paulo, Brazil (1 minute 15 seconds because I used Grandpa's atlas and it's the biggest book I have ever seen!) Thank you for your email. I am glad you help your mum to cook. I help my dad.

We normally have a Sunday roast but I really like the look of your lunch. It is very colourful. Thank you for sending a video about your guest blogging. I do not know what to expect from Brazil so it is very exciting. I hope you are enjoying the Olympics. It is very special and you will enjoy them in Brazil in 4 years!

Thank you for the translation!
"Now let's talk in Portuguese. We will participate in the project NeverSeconds representing Brazil this week.
Here in Brazil we do not have (is) all day studying, we studied only one period, or studied in the morning or afternoon - it's cool, you know, gives us more rest is better.
It is not everyone who eats lunch at school, and generally only those who want us lunch at home. This week we will have lunch at school.
We participate in a project at a place called SESC and there we have a place (way) totally different food, is quite different and there will be two days, Tuesday and Thursday.
Here in Brazil we usually eat rice, beans, vegetables in salad or cooked meats and varied. Interestingly, rice and beans, which is what we usually eat, we do not think abroad, here in South America has the same countries that do not like to eat rice and beans and we really like here is the thing we eat more (or more frequently).
So that's it, thank you. It`s all folks, see ya!"

I really like watching your carnivals on TV. They are so colourful. I think I will learn more about Brazil this week.



To Seoul for kimbap 김밥

I really worried about the storm coming to Seoul and was glad everyone was ok. I've never tried kimbap but I will do one day.


Hello again from Seoul! Today’s blog post is going to be a little different. As you know the posts on NeverSeconds are usually written by children, but today I (Hansik’s teacher) am going to be
taking the reins. Why? Because Korea is currently preparing to be hit by Typhoon Bolaven and the kids were told not to come to school today. While teachers still have to report on the outset of this hurricane, the cafeteria is closed. I’ll take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about a typical Korean snack or lunch when not at school.

First off, I am an American who has been living in Korea for the past 18 months. I work at an immersion school so the students spend half the day studying the national curriculum with their Korean homeroom teacher and half the day studying core subject in English with a native English speaker. I’m the writing teacher so this project fits perfectly.

In Korea, teachers eat with their students. We eat the same food but are able to serve
ourselves. I pay 50,000 won (about $50 US) a month which is a great deal. I actually love most of the food in the cafeteria!

Now for the food! One of the most popular quick meals or snacks in Korea is called kimbap, or in Korean, 김밥. Also called the “Korean sandwich” due to the fact kimbap is often brought as a lunch on hikes or field trips, kimbap looks like a Japanese sushi roll, but it is actually very different. Yesterday we learned that kim (김), the first syllable of the word, is dried seaweed. Well, the second syllable, bap (밥), means rice.

Like sushi it is rice and seaweed rolled, but the similarities end there. The most common variety is filled with egg, ham, cucumber, carrot, and pickled radish (danmuji, 단무지). You can also order kimbap with other ingredients including cheese, kimchi, or, my favorite, canned tuna with mayonnaise. It sounds weird at first, but once you get used to kimbap, it is delicious. A roll runs about 2,000 won ($2 US) and is available at convenience stores and take away shops around the country.

One final thing before I go. Although it is a little scary here in Korea today with this impending storm, I know that I will still have access to food and a hot meal. Let’s make sure everyone who can donates to Mary’s Meals so that this can be a reality for more people across the world!

That’s it from Korea today! Hopefully the students will be back tomorrow with another school lunch for you all. If you have any questions about food, lunches, or education in South Korea please ask and I’ll have the students get you some answers.

Number 4- Alba, Spain!

Danny's mum sent in this picture from Alba in Spain (20 seconds!) because Danny is only 10 months old and is at nursery. I still like eating with my hands and this is perfect!

I love the cute teddy bear bowls! LEFT: lunch one consists of white flesh peaches, strawberries and yogurt melts under they also have a meal which was cous-cous, broccoli, cucumbers and roasted salmon RIGHT: day two lunch he had poached apple pears, strawberries and blue berries, for the meal he had pieces of swede and fresh garden peas.

It costs 1 euro, about 80p, and I think I could eat three but there again I am nine not 10 months old!


Breakfast from Finland- number 3!

Lots of children get breakfast in schools as well. My dad is speaking at a conference organised by the Children's Food Trust with Carmel McConnell whose charity Magic Breakfast provides school breakfasts. This breakfast from Finland is brilliant!


Hi! I'm mother of three from Finland. I have two sons, 7 and 8 years old ones. They are going to primary school 1st and 2nd classes when new semester starts in August. My daughter is three years old. I'm homemom for her and childminder for three other kids ages one to three. I make and serve breakfast, lunch and afternoon snack for these little ones every Monday to Friday. Boys get their free lunch in school like every kid in Finnish schools, other meals they eats in home.

This time I like to present you most typically breakfast for my daughter. It contains rye bread with very thin slice of smoked ham and some veggies (lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomato and pepper), bowl of fresh fruits (grapes, watermelon and banana) and cup of hot chocolate.

I tried to ask her what she like about the breakfast. She told me that breakfast tastes good, and she ate everything else except watermelon, which she don't like. When I asked is it healthy or non-healthy, she answered healthy. So I think rates could be something like that:

Food-O-Meter: 8/10
Mouthfuls: Didn't count
Course: Breakfast
Healthy: 9/10 I take one point off because of hot chocolate, 'cause I can't find the better option with less sugar last time in store.
Price: I think less than 1€ or £0.80 for her portion.
Pieces of hairs: none

My 8 years old son rates the same breakfast like that:

Food-O-Meter: 9/10
Mouthfuls: Didn't count either
Course: Breakfast
Healthy: 10/10

Best regards,

Second Meal from Chicago

I have been sent lots of photos from America. This one was sent in by Kimberley who works in the Glenview school district, near Chicago, Illinois. Dad timed me to find Chicago on the globe and it took me 48 seconds but it was not fair as I was looking for it spelt SHicargo.

I would have chosen Glenview food over mine today and eaten everything!


First International School Meals Day is today!

I've had lots of fun getting ready for today. Although Argyll and Bute isn't doing anything special I wanted to share my favourite 10 posts from my blog to celebrate International School Meals Day. I've enjoyed going back and seeing all the great dinners and how much everyone likes them.

First we are going to Pavlova in Australia who squeezed more lemons that I have ever seen for Mary's Meals!


Hi Everybody! My blog name is Pavlova and I am 9 years old just like Veg. I live in Perth – not in Scotland- but in Western Australia. Can you guess why I have called myself Pavlova?
I go to Dalkeith Primary School and we don’t have a school canteen so I have to take a packed lunch every day. We all eat outside our classrooms on the shady veranda.
It is like having a picnic everyday. Here is a picture of my lunch today.

I had Vietnamese chicken spring rolls filled with grated carrot, coriander, capsicum (that’s red pepper) and the left over chicken from my Sunday roast. It was delicious dipped in chilli sauce. I had fruit salad after though Mum forgot to pack a fork so it was a messy business! I had an oatmeal cookie for recess which was tasty too.

Food-o-meter- 10/10- it was delicious
Health rating- 9/10- lost a point because of the cookie though it was homemade.
Mouthfuls- 48
Courses– main/dessert and my recess snack
Price- difficult to say as was bits of leftovers from our Sunday lunch though about $3.00.
Pieces of hair– 0
Amount of his packed lunch my brother brought home uneaten- about half and all of his fruit!
Number of Olympic medals won by Australia- 3 one of each color!

At my school we are not allowed junk food as we have a healthy eating policy. There is a traffic light system of food. Food on the red list is not allowed. This is sugary and unhealthy food. We can have food from the amber list sometimes and we must try and eat lots of healthy stuff off the green list.

As Veg said it is winter here in Australia but it has been a beautiful sunny day. It was 23 degrees. I have just checked online and it is 14 degrees in Scotland though I guess you may still warm up a bit this afternoon.

It great news that Veg has been nominated for the great Scot award. I hope she wins.

I am really excited to be in filling in for Veg this week. See ya tomorrow!