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Girl Scout Cookie Glut: Donate To 1st Responders In San Diego

Patch logo Patch 6/22/2021 Kristina Houck
a sign in front of a building © Provided by Patch

SAN DIEGO, CA — If there are three things you can count on every year in San Diego, it's taxes, the Salvation Army Santas ringing bells outside grocery stores and Girl Scouts selling their famous cookies.

This year, the Girl Scouts of America had 15 million boxes of unsold cookies, and the company is racing against the expiration dates to sell all the treats.

You won't be able to satisfy your own craving for a box of Caramel deLites or Lemonades. But you can make sure they don't go to waste in San Diego.

The excess cookies are not available for individual purchase, but anyone interested can buy cookies that will be donated to first responders, food banks and other worthy causes.

Here are five things to know about the cookie glut:

1. Why Didn't They Sell?

The organization blames the ongoing coronavirus pandemic for the excess supply of cookies. Pandemic precautions forced many troops to cancel their traditional booth sales, The Associated Press and other news organizations have reported.

In early spring, when cookie sales began, COVID-19 precautions were still in place and virus cases were nearly peaking, hundreds of Girl Scouts shunned in-person sales and instead focused on moving the inventory through online sales.

The organization, which will be celebrating its 110th anniversary next year, created virtual cookie booths to keep Scouts safe while still selling cookies. Individual troops set up links, and people needing a Girl Scout cookie fix could order them via an app or text message.

In New Mexico, Girl Scouts got creative and tried to sell cookies in drive-thru booths with contact-free delivery, Rebecca Latham, the CEO of Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails, told The Associated Press.

In January, the Girl Scouts partnered with Grubhub, which agreed to waive its fees, to sell and deliver cookies.

But despite those efforts, 15 million boxes of unsold cookies are left over.

"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," said Kelly Parisi, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts of the USA, told The Associated Press.

2. How Many Are Usually Sold?

In a typical year, the Girl Scouts sell around 200 million boxes or $800 million worth of cookies.

Troops in Latham's area typically sell 805,000 boxes of cookies, but this year they sold just under 600,000, The Associated Press reported.

Despite lowered expectations for this year's sales, "the cookie orders placed by its 111 local councils with bakers last fall were still too optimistic," Parisi told The Associated Press.

3. How To Donate

Donating Girl Scout cookies costs $5 per box, and there are no shipping costs. So far, around 5,000 boxes of cookies have been donated.

The Girl Scouts have set a goal of donating 1 million of the 3 million remaining boxes for which they are financially responsible.

Two bakeries have around 12 million boxes of unopened cookies, while the Girl Scout councils have the remaining 3 million, The Associated Press said.

The bakeries are not allowed to sell directly to grocers because the organization does not want to diminish the importance and speciality of the annual cookie sales, The Associated Press said. The bakeries may be able to sell directly to institutional buyers like prisons.

4. What Is The Financial Impact?

Local councils won’t be held financially accountable for the 12 million boxes that are at the two bakeries, but they will be responsible for the 3 million boxes in their possession.

Latham told The Associated Press the loss in sales in her council will affect the organization's ability to invest in infrastructure improvement at Girl Scout camps and fill some staff positions.

5. Will They Go Bad?

Yes, the cookies have a 12-month shelf life.

Next year, expect the Girl Scouts to be back in full force. Membership that declined during the pandemic is already rebounding, Parisi told The AP.

Some coronavirus-related changes — such as the partnership with Grubhub — will likely continue in future cookie seasons, Parisi told The AP, but the Girl Scouts are eager to reopen their booths next year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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