Business and baking join forces again with the return of Girl Scout cookies. While Feb. 8 was designated National Girl Scout Cookie Day, the goodies are on sale all month, making any day worthy of the celebration.
The designated day not only celebrates the program but also raises awareness about what the Girl Scout cookie program does for the girls. “We want people to know that the Girl Scout cookie organization is not only about the cookies, but the skills the girls get from participating,” says Kim Dunne, Girl Scouts of NYPENN Pathways media manager.
The girls, Dunne adds, learn five life skills they’ll be able to carry with them long after their Girl Scout days have ended: goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. The Girl Scout cookie program is the largest girl-led business enterprise in the world, with annual sales up to $790 million, Dunne says.
“Girls are picking up essential business and social skills from as early as kindergarten, and they’re also learning to give back to their communities,” Dunne says. After paying the supplier, Little Brownie Bakers in Louisville, Ky., approximately 70 percent of the sales from the cookie program stay with the local Girl Scout Council that sponsors the sale.
The popularity of Girl Scout cookies, which sell for $3.50 a box, goes beyond Thin Mints and Samoas; it stems from the history and exclusivity of the cookie organization. “Girl Scout cookies have been around since the 1930s, so there is a sense of familiarity that makes the cookies and our program so popular,” Dunne says. People from all over look forward to Girl Scout cookies because they’re available once a year and purchasers realize they’re supporting the girls locally, Dunne explains.
Girl Scouts nationally sell more 200 million cookie packages annually. Kindergartener Loriana Walter, 5, has been a Daisy Girl Scout since September 2012, and says she joined because her mother was a Girl Scout. As of Feb. 13, she had sold 692 boxes of cookies, surpassing her goal of 500.
Her mother, Lorrell Walter, became a Girl Scout when she was in second grade, and remained a scout until her senior year in high school. “My mother and grandmother were both Girl Scouts, so it’s kind of a family thing,” says Walter. Walter found that the Girl Scouts of the USA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012, was about so much more than the cookies: It’s about leadership and planning, too.
“The girls learn to make decisions,” Walter says. “My daughter is 5 years old, and though they can’t make a decision on their own, there are ways to help them do that and that’s by giving them choices.”
Young Loriana’s troop, which is based in Chittenango, has sold at least 30 boxes designated as donations. The girls voted to give half to the Golisano Children’s Hospital and the other half to the Sullivan Food Pantry in Chittenango, to which the girls themselves will deliver the cookies.
Along with naming Feb. 8 National Girl Scout Cookie Day, the organization has given its famous cookie box a makeover in support of its efforts to raise awareness. The new design includes a list of the five skills the girls learn, links to the organization’s website, descriptions of what Girl Scouts do in scouting and more.
One icon included in the new design highlights the Girl Scouts cookie program’s push for sustainability. The issue came about in February 2012 when two scouts were recognized for their efforts to remove palm oil from the cookies, according to The New York Times. The production of palm oil in any product results in the destruction of rainforests, which are cleared at the rate of 300 football fields per hour to make way for oil palm plantations.
The Girl Scouts organization is aware of this issue, and the cookie bakers have cut back on its use this year, Dunne says. The organization continues to seek an alternative, she adds, pledging to move to a segregated, certified, sustainable palm oil source by 2015.
This year, the cookie program has implemented a Gift of Caring initiative in which buyers who may not necessarily want to purchase cookies for themselves can donate boxes of cookies to a food bank or even a worthy friend. “Last year through the Gift of Caring program, 7,776 boxes of Girl Scout Cookies were donated to the Salvation Army locally,” Dunne notes. “This year the recipient will be the Food Bank of Central New York.”
Booth sales, in which the girls set up cookie stands at
certain locations, begin Saturday, Feb. 16, and run through March 20.
Find out where cookies are being sold in your community by visiting
www.girlscoutcookies.org or by using the free Girl Scout Cookie Finder
app for iPhone and Android smartphones.