One organization that we all know and love has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic — The Girl Scouts of the USA.
In a twist that none of us really thought about, the popular girls’ organization has struggled to sell that patented “Girl Scout Cookies” over the past year. In fact, they have approximately 15 million boxes of unsold cookies in surplus.
But if you think about it, it does make total sense. Kelly Parisi, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA, said as much. She told the Associated Press on Monday that it isn’t that surprising given that most of the girls’ sales come from in-person interactions.
“This is unfortunate, but given this is a girl-driven program and the majority of cookies are sold in-person, it was to be expected,” Parisi explained.
Normally, in any given year Girl Scouts of the USA sells upwards of 200 million boxes of cookies. That equals out to more than $800 million worth of cookies. The Girl Scouts have tried other sales methods like drive-thru booths, online sales, and contactless delivery, but none of those have resulted in much success.
With such a large surplus and nowhere to really turn, the organization has begun looking at other options. One of those would be to donate cookies to food banks and to the less fortunate. Even though higher-ups in the organization saw this coming, Parisi is hoping they can make up for lost time now that COVID-19 restrictions have started to lighten up.
“Girl Scout cookie season isn’t just when you get to buy cookies,” she said. “It’s interacting with the girls. It’s Americana.”
Girl Scouts Are Losing Memberships
It is not just the coronavirus pandemic that is hurting one of America’s favorite organizations. The Girl Scouts of the USA are also losing memberships left and right. Overall membership has dropped by more than 30 percent since 2009 — way before the pandemic even started.
Agenia Clark, the local council president and CEO of Girl Scouts of Middle Tennessee, told the Associated Press that the pandemic brought all of these issues to light.
“Without the girls, there is no cookie program. Unfortunately, it took a global pandemic to bring all the problems to the surface,” said Clark.
A lot of the declining memberships stem from linked reports from the AP. There were reports leaked about alleged child labor in making palm oil used in the Girl Scout cookies.
One troop leader in Jersey City, New Jersey, said that her team of Girl Scouts declined to participate in this year’s cookie program. Instead, they boycotted and protested at city hall. That same troop leader, Gina Verdibello, said she knows of at least a dozen other troops that did the same thing — all in response to the palm oil scandal.
“We want to sell cookies,” she said. “It’s part of our thing. But this is putting kind of a damper on it.”