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In my belly, fools, not the landfill!
March 14, 2013 7:30 AM   Subscribe

13,000+ boxes of Girl Scout cookies trashed on video. Sources at the Girl Scouts of the USA office in New York say there's no organization-wide policy for disposing of unsold cookies. Many boxes are donated, thanks in part to the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act that shields businesses from liability for food donations. Still, an estimated 40% of food is thrown out (pdf) in the U.S.
posted by spamandkimchi (97 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Speaking as a former Girl Scout who went door to door in her suburb selling said cookies, I totally would have taken 150 boxes of Trefoils. Love me some shortbread.
posted by spamandkimchi at 7:32 AM on March 14, 2013


Yeah, they can give all those extra Thin Mints to me. Thanks!
posted by spinifex23 at 7:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


NOT THE SAMOAS, FOR ALL LOVE
posted by jquinby at 7:37 AM on March 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


Why would you do this
posted by Kitteh at 7:39 AM on March 14, 2013


Wow, this is really shitty. :(

I would like to just note, for those who are interested, that there are two licensed bakers of Girl Scout cookies in the US: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Little Brownie is the far more popular baker (each regional council gets to choose, annually, which baker they will use based on the % profits offered by each), and it seems to me that ABC is getting phased out all over. For instance, Chicago uses Little Brownie now, but used to use ABC. (That's why it's getting harder to find the Lemonades cookies, for those of you curious--those are baked by ABC.)

This is bad news for anyone severely dairy intolerant, or for vegans, because ABC is currently the only baker offering vegan cookie options. (ABC's Thin Mints and Tagalongs are vegan--the Little Brownie versions of those cookies contain dairy.)

Please direct all further inquiries about Girl Scout cookie minutiae to this weirdo.
posted by phunniemee at 7:41 AM on March 14, 2013 [25 favorites]


NOT THE SAMOAS, FOR ALL LOVE

They're not Samoas at ABC! They're Caramel deLites! Because branding!
posted by phunniemee at 7:42 AM on March 14, 2013


Oh the humangocremeity!
posted by lalochezia at 7:42 AM on March 14, 2013


Lemonades are awesome, but overall I do prefer Little Brownie.
posted by Foosnark at 7:43 AM on March 14, 2013


Investigation: Why Were More Than 13,000 Boxes Of Perfectly Fine Girl Scout Cookies Tossed?

'Cookies Tossed'. Heh heh.

Heh heh heh.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:43 AM on March 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


All joking aside -- if they really did overproduce this year, what exactly are they supposed to do with the cookies?

My husband is in the military, and organizations often like to make themselves feel good by "donating" their leftovers to the base, which the soldiers are then obligated to bring home. It's usually overly sugary junk food crap (if it isn't already expired)

Feeding the "hungry" with crappy junk food products is also not great and won't help anyone stop being "hungry"

It's great when people are willing to pay their $4 a box for the once a year treat (gimme dem samoas... AMIRITE?!), but suggesting that unwanted junk food should be "donated" is just dumb.
posted by sparklemotion at 7:46 AM on March 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


Hehe hehehehe
posted by sfts2 at 7:47 AM on March 14, 2013


They're not Samoas at ABC! They're Caramel deLites! Because branding!

Carmel DeLites is a terrible name, I mean just look at it. That's such an ugly looking word. Also, it's not in the least bit racist, so what's even the point?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:50 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Feeding the "hungry" with crappy junk food products is also not great and won't help anyone stop being "hungry"

No, but when you're getting by on rice and beans a box of cookies is enough to make your week.
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:50 AM on March 14, 2013 [35 favorites]


During my undergraduate summers working at the Molson brewery in Toronto I spent many a day dumping more beer down the drain than even the heaviest drinker could manage in a lifetime. Just because of packaging errors like upside down, incorrect or peeling labels. We even had multi-bottle openers so that we could pop the crowns on 8 beers at a time and a tipping machine that let us tip over and dump about 10 cases in one go. We could dump a complete skid of beer in minutes.
posted by srboisvert at 7:51 AM on March 14, 2013


Since when does metafilter allow snuff films???
posted by dr_dank at 7:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please direct all further inquiries about Girl Scout cookie minutiae to this weirdo.

Well, now that you mention it:
Is it just me, or do the Do-Si-Dos this year taste suspiciously like they've been reformulated to be healthier?
posted by Z. Aurelius Fraught at 7:54 AM on March 14, 2013


that there are two licensed bakers of Girl Scout cookies in the US: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers

I was wondering about this a few weeks ago. I was out visiting my parents in Colorado and bought a box of Thin Mints outside the super market. The sleeve packaging was a clear plastic as opposed to the metallic packaging I'm used to back east.

They also seemed to have that reduced fat "healthier" cookie taste compared to the delicious chocolate-mint treats I had sitting back home. Of course, I neglected to look at the nutritional information on both and see if there was an actual difference or if it was just my oxygen starved mind playing tricks on me.
posted by cmfletcher at 7:54 AM on March 14, 2013


They could have a 'remainders' sale a couple of months after the main sale ends...
posted by spinifex23 at 7:55 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


when you're getting by on rice and beans a box of cookies is enough to make your week.

But it's a whole 'nother logistical challenge to get donated cookies to people who actually want them.

The linked article has quotes from one Pastor who runs a foodshelf that feeds 50-60 people a week. How many weeks would it take for them to go through 13,000 boxes of cookies?
posted by sparklemotion at 7:56 AM on March 14, 2013


phunniemee: I would like to just note, for those who are interested, that there are two licensed bakers of Girl Scout cookies in the US: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Little Brownie is the far more popular baker (each regional council gets to choose, annually, which baker they will use based on the % profits offered by each), and it seems to me that ABC is getting phased out all over. For instance, Chicago uses Little Brownie now, but used to use ABC. (That's why it's getting harder to find the Lemonades cookies, for those of you curious--those are baked by ABC.)

I assume the bakers are prevented from selling the same cookies directly to consumers with different names/packaging?

This is bad news for anyone severely dairy intolerant, or for vegans, because ABC is currently the only baker offering vegan cookie options. (ABC's Thin Mints and Tagalongs are vegan--the Little Brownie versions of those cookies contain dairy.)

Seems like it would make sense for the Girl Scouts to offer Regular Thin Mints and Dairy-free Thin Mints as options, no?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:56 AM on March 14, 2013


that there are two licensed bakers of Girl Scout cookies in the US: ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers

Girl Scout Cookies have long been referenced in American cinema, tv, etc, but I always thought the girls were baking the cookies themselves and selling them. I have just now discovered that it's a single huge line of products. Like a semi-exclusive Oreo. This is very strange.

Reading wikipedia I see that the practice originated with home-baked goods.
posted by distorte at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like a semi-exclusive Oreo. This is very strange.

They are sold by the girls, though. During Girl Scout cookie season, you'll see them set up at little tables outside stores selling them. I suspect that in this day and age, no one would buy homemade cookies sold like that.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:01 AM on March 14, 2013


They are sold by the girls, though. During Girl Scout cookie season, you'll see them set up at little tables outside stores selling them. I suspect that in this day and age, no one would buy homemade cookies sold like that.

Sure, I get that, that they're not sold in shops.

In Ireland it would still be common to have a "bake sale" to benefit a charity or school or similar, where people would sell homemade baked goods. Possibly that still happens in the States in other contexts?
posted by distorte at 8:04 AM on March 14, 2013


Is it just me, or do the Do-Si-Dos this year taste suspiciously like they've been reformulated to be healthier?

They have been! Do-Si-Dos (made by LBB, not ABC--they make "Peanut Butter Sandwiches") are now made with whole grains!

When we do booth sales (one coming up this Saturday, Chicago peeps!), I tell my girls to make that a selling point when trying to convince people who say that they're on a diet. It has a very high success rate. (And usually, D-S-Ds are the gateway cookie to getting them to buy Samoas.)
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feeding the "hungry" with crappy junk food products is also not great and won't help anyone stop being "hungry"

It's great when people are willing to pay their $4 a box for the once a year treat (gimme dem samoas... AMIRITE?!), but suggesting that unwanted junk food should be "donated" is just dumb.


I work one shift a week at a food pantry and we got a whole bunch of girl scout cookies both last year and this season. We put them out with the desserts - one choice per family, please - and they are supremely popular. People have the same reaction that many of the commenters above did. They are giddy to find their favorite cookie and thankful that they can bring a box home.

Our families bring home cereal, and rice, and beans, and barley, and bread, and fresh produce, and milk, and eggs, and canned vegetables. But they also bring home mac-and-cheese with day-glo cheese powder, and spare halloween candy, and leftover Pizza Hut, and delicious girl scout cookies. The suggestion that "crappy junk food products" won't help them, and the quotes around the word "hungry," ignore the reality that many of these people truly honestly do not have enough food to eat.

In a more perfect world, our pantry would be filled with organic figs and all of our families would be clamoring for almonds and flaxseed. But in reality these families have kids at home that love mac and cheese and pizza and cookies (just like our kids do). And oftentimes both parents work difficult jobs and can't come home and cook in the traditional sense. So (at least at our place) crappy junk food is welcome. And I'm sure we'd have found some use for all 13,000 boxes.
posted by AgentRocket at 8:06 AM on March 14, 2013 [57 favorites]


This is something I was really into when I was working for homeless services. I have worked a lot of food service jobs and am familiar with the end of day waste common to many food establishments-- it's an ethical and political mindfield trying to go about reconciling the two states-

(I.e- we HAVE enough food to feed people) with the fact that we also have people dealing with hunger and a lack of access to reliable nutritious meals. (I'm using the term "nutritious" loosely here).

It's interesting to see the losses put together this way. I used to know a lot of kids who would rescue the produce waste from the grocery store dumpsters. It's of course illegal and I've wished a way to make it NOT illegal (i.e. if you come to the grocery store at x time food waste will be free/low cost- the problem is that then people who COULD buy the groceries would wait til then to go shopping. Not to mention any liabilies regarding consumption of any expired items.)

I sometimes brought leftovers from my food service jobs to the homeless shelter and the kids would laugh at me "D'you dig that out of a dumpster?" They know what dumpster food looks like...

Again though, it's a reminder that hunger and nutritional deficiency in the states is a political issue rather than an actual food scarcity issue. The food is there- it's just how do we get it to the people who need it without damaging businesses ability to sustain their incomes?

I am somewhat with you on the junk food issue sparklemotion. People who are coping with mental illness, addiction, physical illness and disability frequently NEED nutritious food. We had homeless people with diabetes, with AIDS, with serious immune conditions. Being poor doesn't mean you don't have celiac or food allergies or health conditions worsened by food additives and preservatives. It's just less likely to have been diagnosed or treated as worthy of attention by friends/family/and social services providing food and health care to poverty stricken populations. We had folk who would ask for sugar free or prefer health food items when they came into the pantry.

I also agree with fiercecupcake that a diet without ANY fats and sugars is actually pretty hard on both the body and psyche as well. We need fat and salt and sugar, ESPECIALLY when conditions are bad and our bodies are struggling to get needed energy. Also the more sick and depleted your system is the more essential it is to get fast energy easy for the body to access- so our drives kick in overtime to seek fat/sugar/salt. The labor involved in cooking meals that involves a lot of patience and waiting is quite literally hard on a low blood sugar system desperate to both replenish and REST. When life is an abysmal experience- some people literally LIVE for positive food experiences. The positive feelings from food or drink or other drugs (yes food is a chemical substance that alters mood!) is THE sanctuary from a world with no safety net or security or.. love. There is nothing else to live for. You've got no family, no one is looking out for you but you. It's hard enough to remember to want to live... at all. The small things... can be what makes it worth all the pain and suffering. I'm a pollen fan though, I think even ifthe food has salt/sugar/fat it should be "real" food. An apple is different than an apple pie with real apples in it is different than a twinkie in terms of how crappy for the body it is (just my opinion).
posted by xarnop at 8:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


In Ireland it would still be common to have a "bake sale" to benefit a charity or school or similar, where people would sell homemade baked goods. Possibly that still happens in the States in other contexts?

It does! On a very small scale, like a single club at a school, or a church fundraiser.

The Girl Scouts USA has two and a half million active girl members all working together in one coordinated fundraiser over the course of several months, and it's part of the Girl Scout "brand" to be able to offer a consistent quality product day after day, month after month, year after year, in a way that every single girl could participate.

That would be like every person in the entire city of Chicago, every year from December to April, baking constantly in order to provide millions and millions of cookies to the people who want them. And you'd have to do it every day because homemade baked goods have a tremendously short shelf life. It's just not feasible. We'd be so busy baking there'd be no time left to actually sell the darned things.

The GSs also do plenty of DIY fundraisers (later this year, I'm going to have my girls design shrinky-dink buttons to fund a field trip), but it just makes sense to outsource the baking of cookies.

(And plus, you don't WANT the cookies made by a bunch of five year olds. I have Daisies and Brownies, and the last few meetings we've been working on our snack badges. Last night we dipped fruit in chocolate to make fancy sweet treats. They tasted awesome, but I can't imagine anyone actually paying to eat something that looked like that.)
posted by phunniemee at 8:15 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


What the hell. I get that this isn't just a Girl Scouts problem, but in their case, because of the artificially seasonal nature of the product, it's kinda their fault.

Maybe they should just rethink the whole "cookie season" thing and just, you know, keep selling the cookies (in stores, at a markup, even) until they run out?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:19 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


People who live off donated food do not tend to eat a whole box of cookies for a meal. They are rationed as dessert, in my experience. (On preview, what AgentRocket said) Donating them may have logistical problems, but dumping a few tons of boxed cookies in a landfill has logistical problems too. The world does not have infinite space for garbage.

But even if, for some reason, the cookies are not donate-able, the cardboard boxes can be recycled and the cookies themselves may be compost-able. The separating of the cookies and packaging would be a chore, to be sure, but there are many people out of jobs willing to do volunteer work to keep themselves occupied doing something useful.

The wasting of edible food in a country that has many people who are underfed, many people who are jobless and need useful activities, and many people who vocally bitch about their tax dollars going to lazy welfare foodstamp moochers is a sad thing, because there are solutions and people willing to implement the solutions if given the opportunity.
posted by Cookiebastard at 8:21 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I frequently run catered business events and generally try to donate the leftovers to local shelters. A year or two ago, at an event in San Francisco, I asked the venue how we could arrange for the leftover food from the buffet to be donated. This was beautiful, nutritious stuff - glazed salmon, potatoes, salad, green beans, bread, brownies - really good catering. Any shelter in downtown SF would be a few minutes' drive away.

Our contact at the venue - super-sharp and helpful guy - said he was sorry but there was no way we could do that - regulations in SF make it very difficult to legally donate perishable food. Apparently (if my memory serves - I might get details wrong) there was a case years ago when food was donated to a shelter, one of the homeless clients got food poisoning, and a personal-injury lawyer took the case and got a judgement against the shelter and/or the food donor. The result was city legislation against this sort of thing happening again.

So to protect against the possibility of a food poisoning case & the inevitable liability lawsuit that would follow, SF made it illegal for me to give this perfectly good food to people who needed it.

I will say that New York hasn't taken that route and we find it much easier to work with NYC-based organizations like City Harvest, which does awesome work.
posted by mark7570 at 8:23 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tons of highly addictive drugs are destroyed in this country every day to stop them from falling into the wrong hands.

Why should Thin Mints be any different?
posted by madajb at 8:26 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


mark7570: So to protect against the possibility of a food poisoning case & the inevitable liability lawsuit that would follow, SF made it illegal for me to give this perfectly good food to people who needed it.

For your future use.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:26 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I say "hungry" because, from what I understand, in the US food problems are much more of a matter of malnutrition than calorie deficiency.

I'm not trying to imply that somehow people who need to use food shelves are undeserving of a treat every now and then. I just don't think that it's necessarily a good use of the Girl Scouts organization's resources to coordinate the distribution of a one-time over order.

To deal with 13,000 boxes of unwanted cookies, you need to have some kind of infrastructure set up to make sure that they can get to places where they will be distributed. You need networks with food pantries, volunteers to get them there, administrators to make sure that the boxes are actually going where they are supposed to, etc.

I'd rather that the Girl Scouts focus on figuring out how to avoid over-orders like that, than work on building up a completely different competency than their core mission (which is providing enrichment opportunities for girls).

Sure, you could delegate the management of the donations to the troops themselves, but that should probably be a decision of an individual troop leader if that it something that would be worthwhile for their girls. And there's nothing stopping local groups from doing that on a smaller scale.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:26 AM on March 14, 2013


Saw a thing a few years back about some new type of sandwich retail in NYC, I think it was, and they were really stressing the freshness. The guy was making a big selling point that if it was on the shelf longer than a couple of hours or something, "then we throw it right out."

I'm thinking - why don't you give it to hungry people you fucking twat.

Or is that tantamount to communism or something.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:31 AM on March 14, 2013


Cookiebastard -- everything you say in this thread is eponysterical. But I think that you are right that they probably could have handled the disposal better. But then again, we don't know how the waste was handled beyond just the crushing, right? Maybe crushing and then separating later was better somehow? (that's a guess, and reaching, so probably not true)

Sys Rq - Maybe they should just rethink the whole "cookie season" thing and just, you know, keep selling the cookies (in stores, at a markup, even) until they run out?

Here's the thing. Girl Scout cookies are not _that_ good. If people could get them all the time, their sales would absolutely go down, because they will lose that "specialness".
posted by sparklemotion at 8:31 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


To deal with 13,000 boxes of unwanted cookies, you need to have some kind of infrastructure set up

Sorry, maybe this is an oversimplification but wouldn't it be extremely easy for the Girl Scouts to offload most of the infrastructure requirements on to homeless shelters and other not-for-profits? They would just have to send out a few mass e-mails, staff a couple of scouts every night for a week and the organizations themselves would just go and pick up the leftover cookies themselves. I mean, isn't this pretty much how businesses handle most of their leftover food donations anyway? If even a quarter of those boxes were given out then at least it would not have been the waste that it was.

Aside from possible legal technicalities, I don't see why that couldn't have happened.
posted by dubusadus at 8:32 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thank you Agent Rocket and xarnop for your defense of cookies for the food needy.

As one of the food needy, I say, "Don't take away the option to have GS cookies in my food box!" Why does everyone get to be the arbitrators on what is healthy for the poor when they don't get to be so for the rich? What is this Calvinistic notion that, because we are poor, we shouldn't hope or even have opportunities for luxuries to come into our lives?

For a few years now, my grocery budget is stretched very thin. I don't buy luxuries like cookies or crackers or junk food - it's just too expensive. I buy a lot of rice and beans. I've been underweight for years and am still shrinking. My clothes (which I cannot afford to replace) fall off of me. It's occurred to me just recently that, just maybe, cookies and other desserts ARE NOT a luxury for me.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:32 AM on March 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


Have y'all seen the Samoa clones Keebler is selling in groceries under the name "Caramel Delites"? Christ, they should just call 'em "Girl Scout Dream Crushers."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:34 AM on March 14, 2013


As the father of a one-year old daughter, I have to wonder: why the continued association of Girl Scouts with a stereotypically "female" activity like "making" cookies? And do Girl Scouts get to do fun outdoorsy stuff like their homophobic counterparts?
posted by Slothrup at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2013


If even a quarter of those boxes were given out then at least it would not have been the waste that it was.

These were boxes that individual troops didn't want. We have no idea how much of the over-order at the troop level got donated already. I do also think that the idea that "all it would take is a few mass emails" is a huge oversimplification. If this were 1,300 boxes then yeah, dealing with them would probably have just being someone's evening side project. 13,000 boxes takes serious coordination.

What is this Calvinistic notion that, because we are poor, we shouldn't hope or even have opportunities for luxuries to come into our lives?

I have no idea what this notion is, because no one is saying it except for you.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2013


Yeah, but these troops had coordinated enough to get it all to a central location. And what's the assumption behind the difference between 1300 boxes and 13000? The article says there were 1100 cases (presumably with 12 boxes each) in total. Are you saying that LA doesn't have enough churches and shelters that could go and pick these boxes up, that they couldn't figure out a place to store these cookies for a few weeks? I mean, I understand it takes extra effort but in the day and age of e-mail and two cars per household, it just seems like such an excessive waste.
posted by dubusadus at 8:43 AM on March 14, 2013


There are clones of Thin Mints, Samoas, and Peanut Butter Patties at my local Food Lion, all year round. Store brand.
posted by 41swans at 8:43 AM on March 14, 2013


Slothrup, I earned a badge in winter inner tube sledding over frozen horse poop (I think this one was technically supposed to be horsemanship but I was not a fan of the ponies) so yeah Girl Scouts do fun outdoorsy things.
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:45 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's interesting to see the losses put together this way. I used to know a lot of kids who would rescue the produce waste from the grocery store dumpsters. It's of course illegal and I've wished a way to make it NOT illegal (i.e. if you come to the grocery store at x time food waste will be free/low cost- the problem is that then people who COULD buy the groceries would wait til then to go shopping. Not to mention any liabilies regarding consumption of any expired items.)

In my area there is a group called 'Food Not Bombs' that takes such food from grocery stores and distributes it for free to anyone who wants it.

As the father of a one-year old daughter, I have to wonder: why the continued association of Girl Scouts with a stereotypically "female" activity like "making" cookies? And do Girl Scouts get to do fun outdoorsy stuff like their homophobic counterparts?

Boy, I wish there were eyeroll emoticons available to me on Metafilter. To your second question: yes. To your first question: I don't even know what to say to this.
posted by bq at 8:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slothrup: And do Girl Scouts get to do fun outdoorsy stuff like their homophobic counterparts?

Oh hell yes. Here are things I learned as a young girl from camping (in all seasons upstate NY, mind you, not just summer) with my troop: fishing, identifying edible berries, tent setup and maintenance, how to build a fire, archery, trail marking and maintenance, canoeing, what to do if you're lost in the woods, outdoor survival skills, minimal impact camping, knot tying, preventing hypothermia, first aid, etc etc etc.
posted by troika at 8:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


dubusadus, I understand it takes extra effort

That's the point. The Scouts are a non-profit organization, they need to make decisions about where to put their "effort". I can't get mad at them for not choosing to put in "extra effort" here.

I can get mad at them for wasting the money on the over-order in the first place.

Slothrup, why the continued association of Girl Scouts with a stereotypically "female" activity like "making" cookies?

Because they've always sold cookies? The evil org sells popcorn and/or apples, so it just seems to be a "cute children sell food" type ploy.

And do Girl Scouts get to do fun outdoorsy stuff like their homophobic counterparts?

If they are anything like Canada's Girl Guides (which it does seem like they are), then absolutely -- I went camping with the Guides far more than I did with my parents.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:48 AM on March 14, 2013


So, this thread has covered: malnutrition, access, over production, market demand, supply chain management and hunger. The issue is complex.

Here are my core assumptions:
Corporate counsel want to have 0 liability for product donation...regardless of laws built to protect them.
Brand management want no dilution and loss of value (emotional and monetary).
Supply chain wants no added cost to disperse (one truck to the dump is easier than multiple half filled trucks to 20 locations).
Hungry people need access to the same types of food as everyone else (the psychic pain that parent feel in not being able to give their children "the food that everyone else is eating" cannot be undervalued).

@ dubusadus...every day is a technical difficulty in the world of emergency food distribution. The system was set up for emergencies, however, they have been running at an emergency-level for years. So, to "staff a couple of scouts every night for a week" would mean a great deal of stress for the organization to be able to receive the product. It is an incredibly challenging environment right now. The need is not letting down. Most pantries are run completely by volunteers. They are great folks, but, by and large, are in their 70's and 80's. This is generally true across the country. 80 year old folks are challenged to load and unload vans and trucks of food every day. They are doing it too...but...it is not a lasting solution.

I hope that they will find it worth it to donate these in the future.

Sorry for the hunger derail. Carry on.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Boy, I wish there were eyeroll emoticons available to me on Metafilter.

:) Sorry, I'm not trying to hide my ignorance. In the late 70s (when my sister was involved), it seemed to be only craftsy kinds of things. I don't know if that was just a reflection of her particular group or if things have evolved since then, and my only awareness of GSA after that time comes from the cookie sales.
posted by Slothrup at 8:52 AM on March 14, 2013


why the continued association of Girl Scouts with a stereotypically "female" activity like "making" cookies? And do Girl Scouts get to do fun outdoorsy stuff like their homophobic counterparts?

Sorry I won't shut up in this thread, I just really like the Girl Scouts.

Nothing about the cookie sale is about making cookies. The badges the girls earn for the cookie sale fall into two categories: "Cookie Business" and "Financial Literacy"

The Cookie Business badges include things like counting money, making change, supply and demand, and interacting with customers.

The Financial Literacy badges include things like making good purchasing choices (like, do we spend the money the troop earns to buy toys, or do we spend the money on a trip to somewhere cool?), how checking accounts work, how to budget effectively, and philanthropic action.

These start with girls as young as Kindergarten. It's no joke. GSUSA takes the cookie business seriously. It's about having fun while learning to come a fiscally responsible little person. It is 100% business sense and 0% homemaker. There is nothing stereotypically female about it. It is awesome and extremely progressive.

As to your second: yes, they can do all the outdoorsy stuff they want, but no one is forced into it. The troops (well, the great ones) are very democratic. I make sure my troop votes on what we do (from a broad list of activities I suggest to them), because I want to make sure that they're in a troop that reflects their interests, not mine. (This is why sometimes we make up songs about how much we love peanut butter.) As soon as they say, "I want to go camping!" I will find a way to make it happen. Power of choice, yo.
posted by phunniemee at 8:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [27 favorites]


"I say "hungry" because, from what I understand, in the US food problems are much more of a matter of malnutrition than calorie deficiency."

Hunger is complex in the US, but there are definitely populations who are missing meals and getting inadequate calorie intake. Because of food pantries, meal services, and food stamps, many will go through periods where they are able to access excess calories. Considering the instability of food access- gaining weight and eating to excess whenever possible makes more sense for people with income and housing instability. Yes there are health side effects of such habits but there are also side effects of going through periods of starvation without excess fats on the body. Death tends to be considered worse than the health effects of obesity by the cells in the body (and probably most human beings debating between the two).

Malnutrition is a big part of this- food quality is poor despite excesses of pantry items. I am a fan of creating better access to healthy prepared meals for people with unemployment issues, with housing instability issues, with disabilities, illness and other crisis preventing stable income and self care capacity...

Often people who are ill and in crisis do not have the same energy reserves and cognitive capacity to focus on thinking about self care (or caring about self care) in the way that healthy people do. This is why in some cultures, families and friends tend to have strong values about caregiving for the sick and disabled, for people during mourning and emotional distress and other periods of low functioning. Our culture values self-reliance and "sending people off to hit rock bottom for their own good" which frequently just results in-- the homeless populations we see now. Not saying many homeless don't have behavioral problems that make them unsafe (because many do)-- but often people with disabilities and struggles with functioning are NOT at all benefited by living without housing or proper meals. For many it exacerbates mental and physical disease rendering the person less and less functional and more and more likely to turn to the most desperate of coping mechanisms (hard drug use, survival sex etc.)

Prepared meals- including fresh vegetables and meats, are essential to the human body and often to recovering or maintaining health. Expecting people to improve their work capacity while ill, and getting MORE ill by the diet their eating (or rather what they're not eating) is counter basic science. So I'm not exactly a fan of food pantries handing out a bunch of packaged goods and saying "THERE we solved hunger!" We will not solve malnutrition or the mental and physical and development problems associated with it by mass production of dry goods. Period.

That said, if you're eating a full meal with healthy meats, oils, vegetables, grains, fruits-- having a piece of pie or a fruit smoothie, or berries with cream-- is a healthy part of a good diet. We need fat and in fact salad without oil is not absorbed as well. We NEED fats.

paegan- I'm not a fan of packaged goods, but I believe you're likely right that you need more meats, oils, cheeses, nuts, and fresh produce in your diet. To make up for it, the sugars in packaged foods can feel very soothing (and may well be better than nothing sometimes) but in my perfect world we would find better ways to help the sick and disabled and financially struggling get access to a wholesome diet that does include fats, salts and sugars (including some oat waffles with butter and maple syrup!)

Food not bombs- we have one in my city! I like their mission and hope to see more from them. A lot of times the reasons business who want to donate food waste can't (as mentioned above) is actually political and due to regulations more than unwilling. Which is unfortunate and something I hope can be remedied better than at present.
posted by xarnop at 8:53 AM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


@ Slothrup...some really interesting changes in Girl Scouts....Harvard Business Review has a case study. This is a blog entry from the author of the case study. This video blog is almost 5 years old.
posted by zerobyproxy at 8:54 AM on March 14, 2013


In the late 70s (when my sister was involved), it seemed to be only craftsy kinds of things. I don't know if that was just a reflection of her particular group or if things have evolved since then, and my only awareness of GSA after that time comes from the cookie sales.

I have a Girl Scout Handbook from 1947. More than half of the book is devoted to outdoor activities, with an entire chapter on how to use a hand axe. Your sister just got a bum troop.
posted by phunniemee at 8:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not surprised by this at all. I have seen some of the inside workings at GSA, and there are some complete hacks working there. I saw enough to convince me that selling cookies was less about the girls than it was making money for the organization so hacks could keep on hacking.

As a former Boy Scout, I was really disillusioned.
posted by Camofrog at 9:05 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the suburban girl scout troops around here rented a small storefront in a busy mall. This seems horribly unfair to me -- they are fulfilling the cookie needs of tens of thousands of people who would otherwise buy them from their local troop. Like everything else, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
posted by miyabo at 9:06 AM on March 14, 2013


The way these things are packaged, that was apparently about 1100 cases. Back when my little one was that age, a well-packed minivan could transport in the range of 40-50 cases. There may have been logistical difficulties, but let's not exaggerate them. Looking online, large councils move on the order of 100,000-200,000 cases, not boxes. Palette loads from the bakery appear to run about 200 cases each. Everything could have been packed into even quite a small rental truck, and easily stored in the equivalent of a one-car garage
posted by CHoldredge at 9:09 AM on March 14, 2013


One of the suburban girl scout troops around here rented a small storefront in a busy mall. This seems horribly unfair to me -- they are fulfilling the cookie needs of tens of thousands of people who would otherwise buy them from their local troop. Like everything else, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

That sounds very entrepreneurial to me. And are you sure the space wasn't donated?

I can't believe no one has mentioned Honey Boo-Boo yet.
posted by bq at 9:10 AM on March 14, 2013


I was a scout in the late 70s & early 80s. We did crafty things (no surprise, really, as our two leaders were both very crafty sorts) and we went camping (and picked flowers on our camping trip which we turned into natural dies for some of our craft projects ;)). But we also did lots of other things. The most valuable of which, for me, was auto repair. Until cars turned into sleek super computers - I could look under a hood and understand what was going on. I could check and change my oil. Fix any belts. Change lights & tires. With no fear or confusion. While my sorority my friends in college were calling their dads all freaked out, I could just go outside and do basic maintenance and repair (and then call my parents all freaked out and use the money they sent for beer ;)).
posted by imbri at 9:14 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


bq: I can't believe no one has mentioned Honey Boo-Boo yet.

Honey Boo-Boo isn't a Scout. Only Girl Scouts can sell Girl Scout cookies.
posted by troika at 9:19 AM on March 14, 2013


I wonder what went wrong. Surely they are aware of organizations like good360 that exist to facilitate large corporate gifts of excess consumer goods?
posted by steinwald at 9:24 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If this were 1,300 boxes then yeah, dealing with them would probably have just being someone's evening side project. 13,000 boxes takes serious coordination.

No more so than sending 13,000 boxes of cookies to a landfill, I'd suspect the cost of having those picked up, be it by a municipality or waste management company would exceed the cost of donating them.

I don't even think it's a logistics issue, as there are plenty of organizations in my city (and I suspect LA too) that would just come pick them up.

I don't see why you're up in arms about the Girl Scouts over ordering but can't find any outrage about the fact that the Girl Scouts just chucked 13,000 boxes of perfectly edible cookies into a landfill. It makes no sense.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:42 AM on March 14, 2013


I don't see why you're up in arms about the Girl Scouts over ordering but can't find any outrage about the fact that the Girl Scouts just chucked 13,000 boxes of perfectly edible cookies into a landfill. It makes no sense.

The Girl Scouts didn't chuck anything. ABC did. But, the Girl Scouts made the order in the first place. Ordering cookies is their job, they should do that right (though obviously mistakes get made, I hope they learn from this one).

Let's say the Girl Scouts did send an email to all of the organizations and people came to pick up the cookies. What would happen if one of those organizations decided to dump the cookies after all? Just like here, people would blame the organization whose name is on the cookies for the waste.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:50 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the reasons for over-ordering was the number of Girl Scouts participating in the sale this year.

In Chicago (which, again, doesn't use ABC so I don't know what the specifics were with them), we had a teacher strike at the beginning of the year, right when GS registration starts. Our biggest method of recruiting is through sending home flyers through the schools at the start of the year, and in Autumn 2012, Chicago kids weren't in school. The flyers didn't get distributed.

I keep getting emails from Council about how the cookie sale is tougher this year, and how we have more cookies than expected because there are just fewer new girls enrolled to sell them.

My troop (new this year!) only had one girl in it for a month. Now we're bursting at the seams, thankfully, due to some neighborhood outreach, but I've had four new girls join in just the last month, coming in at the tail end of the cookie sale and not really being able to participate full force.

When they put in the order for expected number of cookies to be sold, no one could have anticipated the hows and whys of just having fewer girls out there selling. So, that's one reason Chicago's dealing with an over-order problem (though from what I've heard, we've amped up the number of booth sales hardcore and they're all doing really well). Other councils I'm sure are facing different challenges.
posted by phunniemee at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Girl Scouts didn't chuck anything. ABC did.

Right, I guess they just assumed that they'd be recycled. Sorry, but I don't believe that, despite the fact that the GS person in the article said they just didn't know they'd be dumped. It's all a face saving crock. What do people think happens to returned food? How dumb are we supposed to be?
posted by IvoShandor at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of GSCookies, anybody I know in Houston like the Lemonades? I had to order cookies from two different friends' kids this year, and then discovered I don't really care for them (give me the thin mints and the peanut butter sandwiches!). I've got 3-4 boxes of them that are otherwise going to sit in a cabinet for years..
posted by mrbill at 10:03 AM on March 14, 2013


This is just laziness. I could get rid of those 13,000 boxes in about an hour with about 4 phone calls.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:07 AM on March 14, 2013


One of the suburban girl scout troops around here rented a small storefront in a busy mall. This seems horribly unfair to me -- they are fulfilling the cookie needs of tens of thousands of people who would otherwise buy them from their local troop.

My personal rule is that I refuse to buy anything from any organization that does not come to my door.

If you get your mom to drive you to the grocery store, set up a table for you, make signs for you, and then you just sit there, I'm sorry, you're not getting anything from me.

But if you're a kid, knock on my door, can answer a basic question or two about what you're selling/collecting money for then I'll buy one of the cheapest item you have.
I'll donate even more if you're doing it without a parent or other adult hovering over you the entire time.

I once had a .. 2nd (3rd) grader knock on my door collecting for a walk-a-thon. All by herself, she had the patter, she was confident, pretty good sales actually. So I sponsored her for a token amount.
Walk-a-thon comes and goes, I don't hear anything.
Then I get a call, it's the same girl, she can't read my writing on the address, so she took the time to call up and ask so she could collect her money.
I was so impressed, I doubled the pledge.

Which is a very long way of saying, 'Storefront? That's dirty pool'.
posted by madajb at 10:08 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


... the 1996 Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act that shields businesses from liability for food donations.

Won't someone please think of the lawyers?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:16 AM on March 14, 2013


"If you get your mom to drive you to the grocery store, set up a table for you, make signs for you, and then you just sit there, I'm sorry, you're not getting anything from me."

My reaction when I see Girl Scouts sitting at tables is "OMG YAY I CAN HAZ COOKIES?" because
1. I don't know any Girl Scout families
2. Kids don't do door-to-door in apartment buildings (in my experience) and probably not even to the houses in my neighborhood.
3. I don't think door-to-door selling is especially safe or a good use of time (having hated doing it when I was little, both for school and in the cookie and nut selling.)
4. I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt that the girls did most of the work themselves.

I'm sad all these cookies went to waste because I would have bought some. On the other hand lots of perfectly good stuff goes to waste every day. And on the other other hand I get my hands on Girl Scout cookies every other year or so and they seem to getting worse and worse.
posted by bleep at 10:20 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


But if you're a kid, knock on my door

The official position is that Kids Can No Longer Do This, as you will steal them into your home and rape them.

Also, what about the girls in my troop? We live in a neighborhood with honest-to-god gang activity and reeeeed red red tinting on that rich blocks poor blocks thing. Go door to door selling cookies to neighbors who can't afford to buy them? While you walk along a block with a bunch of doofuses out drinking at noon and laughing when their gigantic, untrained dogs bark and lunge at you? OK, cool, you do that.

Or, we can take one of the many Council-arranged booths set up in a known safe place where we have permission to sell, carpool with the parents who actually own transportation, put up a sign that my girls made themselves, with their own hands, and it is awesome, at a grocery store in the South Loop where people actually have disposable income, inside because it is ten freaking degrees outside, and sell 150 boxes in three hours. My girls still have to go talk to people. They still have to be brave and ask questions and explain who they are and stand on their feet for three hours and lift boxes to re-stock and make change and fill out receipts and all sorts of actual work.

I don't mean to be jerkish here, but not everyone has the luxury of being somewhere they can go door to door to get the blessing of your four dollar token box of Thin Mints.
posted by phunniemee at 10:21 AM on March 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


madajb: I don't know if this is a local thing, but a few times a year, kids lugging candy and knickknacks in Rubbermaid tubs go peddling door to door for some kind of camp or basketball program that I've never heard of. Some of these kids are no more than ten and there is no adult in sight. Always felt sketchy.
posted by dr_dank at 10:23 AM on March 14, 2013


My personal rule is that I refuse to buy anything from any organization that does not come to my door.

I'm guessing a lot of people are exactly the opposite; I know I am. People that come to my door annoy me, and they interrupt me when I'm cooking or spending time with my wife. Having my doorbell ring also sets off bells in my head that there might be something Important happening (other than people trying to sell me stuff, my door bell tends to get rung by say my landlord or the cops). When I'm at the store, I'm already in cooking buying mode, and I can take time to make a decision before I approach the table. There's a fair bit of pressure in having someone try to sell you something at the door.

Also, selling stuff door to door is basically stupid from a use of resources stand point; there's a reason why the people who do it are often scammy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:24 AM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


My personal rule is that I refuse to buy anything from any organization that does not come to my door.

It's actually against GSUSA regulations to let Girl Scouts do door-to-door sales. It's just too unsafe. It's much safer (and you get a higher yield) to work with organizations like grocery stores and college campuses. I am incredibly shy and I credit my ten years of cookie sales to helping get past the shock and horror or talking to people. (And yes: SO MUCH LUGGING OF COOKIES, making flyers/posters, making change, etc.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:24 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Feeding the "hungry" with crappy junk food products is also not great and won't help anyone stop being "hungry"

I'm a big supporter of Girl Scouts, as I was one myself. I buy from every Scout that asks me (parents leaving out the order sheet at work do not count, unless the Scout is with them). I have the same routine: Ask the Scout about the new flavors (to let them get experience in selling), ask how many boxes I can get for $X (math is important), and then ask which ones would they like best if they were homeless and hungry. Then I buy several boxes and ask them to put them in the food pantry bins at the front of our grocery stores (where they usually stop me), so that they can have the experience of giving.

It's interesting to hear them think through that last question. Thin Mints because everyone loves them? Something peanut buttery, because it's more filling? One of the latest flavors that purport to be healthier? They all have different, but good, logic.

Not one of them, though, has said that giving is a crappy thing to do. Not one Scout, not one parent of a Scout, not one friend who works at food banks. You're the first I've heard to come out strongly against giving delicious, once-a-year, expensive treats to the hungry and poor. I figure even the poor sometimes need things that are not pure necessities.
posted by Houstonian at 10:25 AM on March 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


Thank you Girl Scouts for your expired cookies!! I was on the receiving end of cases and cases of old cookies in Fallujah...literally bombarded!

Sadly, I'll never eat another Girl Scout cookie again.
posted by vonstadler at 10:28 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't mind the kids at the table at the stores; in my area, the parents who sit there with them do not even speak except to say hi, the girls have to do all the talk, all the money taking, and all the handing-out of cookies. I buy one or two boxes a year just because I love the girl scouts (I would not buy anything from boy scouts, as much as the kids themselves are not at fault).

I too wish that we could do a better job distributing food like this. But one thing a friend who works in this field points out is that she'd much rather just get cash, though of course she's happy about food donations. But canned food drives make her a bit nuts. She can get a ten times the food for a dollar than you can, which means for every $1 can of food you donate, she could have bought 10 cans. She can easily feed a person for $1 a day given her resources and contacts (endless whole potatoes for a cent each is an example).

Anyway, I bring that up to note that if you're ever taken to donate food that you're going to buy with the intent to donate, you might inquire whether they'd rather have cash. Then again, I'm sure she would love to have a truck full of GS cookies.
posted by maxwelton at 10:31 AM on March 14, 2013


phunniemee

It's great that you're doing that, and the girls look like they are having fun.

But it bears little relation to the completely whitebread suburb I live in.
I can't take a photo (obviously) but the signs at the tables here are clearly professionally printed, it's the mother that does most of the cajoling while the girls just sit and the whole thing just feels wrong.
posted by madajb at 10:36 AM on March 14, 2013


13,000 boxes of cookies would not require special infrastructure. The Houston Food Bank are producing 166,000 meals this year. Every Thanksgiving we have a massive dinner at a convention center where 35,000 people are served free dinner. Houston could have absorbed that many cookies without any problems at all, and if we could then I'm sure other large cities could, too. It sounds like a lot, and it's a lot to waste, but it isn't a lot to give away.
posted by Houstonian at 10:37 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing a lot of people are exactly the opposite; I know I am. People that come to my door annoy me, and they interrupt me when I'm cooking or spending time with my wife.

I should have mentioned that my rule only holds for kids.
If you're an adult, I'm not even going to open the door.

But a kid, sure I'll help you out.

madajb: I don't know if this is a local thing, but a few times a year, kids lugging candy and knickknacks in Rubbermaid tubs go peddling door to door for some kind of camp or basketball program that I've never heard of.

Don't get that around here. It's mostly school trips, scouts, and the occasional lemonade stand.
posted by madajb at 10:39 AM on March 14, 2013


It's actually against GSUSA regulations to let Girl Scouts do door-to-door sales. It's just too unsafe.

Wow, that's crazy.
Someone should tell the Girl Scouts around here because they knock on my door every year.

Maybe they just know I'm a sucker...
posted by madajb at 10:41 AM on March 14, 2013


You're the first I've heard to come out strongly against giving delicious, once-a-year, expensive treats to the hungry and poor.

I'm not strongly against it. I just think that if feeding the hungry is going to become a core mission of GSUSA, then they should be feeding them better food.

I've mentioned in this thread already that we don't know how many of the cookies were already donated at a local level, and I hope that a bunch were.

I'm glad that individuals are making charitable donations that they can feel proud of, and I think it's great anytime any one person decides to pitch in to help the less fortunate. But we're talking about a large organization and a lot of cookies. Lots of people are jumping to the conclusion that they obviously made the wrong choice by not expanding their mission, but from where I'm sitting it's more nuanced.

I mean, I've heard that some of these troops use the profits from the sales to send children on frivolous camping trips! Don't they know that the money could be better spent on buying up all of the excess and donating it straight to the poor?
posted by sparklemotion at 10:43 AM on March 14, 2013


I enjoy Thin Mints and Samoas (or whatever they're calling them now) and think that Girl Scouts are generally a good thing. A couple of my nieces were Scouts, and they seem to have had a good time with it.

As for the discarded cookies, it's too bad there wasn't some way to avoid the waste. While I understand that people getting food assistance need nutritious things to eat, I don't think there's much harm in including cookies, pizza, or mac & cheese in those programs, too. Everyone enjoys a treat now and then, and guilt-tripping people over cookies seems kinda mean-spirited.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:46 AM on March 14, 2013


This story is a perfect storm of sensationalism. Cookies! Lost innocence! Starving children! A well-known non-profit organization that's probably all snooty and self-righteous! They sure deserve to be taken down a peg!

Nobody gets criticized more harshly than volunteers, organizers, or anybody trying to change things for the better. If you put yourself out there to help but you don't solve everyone's problems, then you've done a terrible thing and shouldn't have tried. People who don't do anything at all don't get criticized, so take a lesson from them.

Every system has waste. The Girl Scout Cookie program is huge, like 200 million boxes a year huge. 13,000 boxes is 0.000065% percent of that. The San Gorgonio Girl Scouts say they donated 100,000 boxes last year. 13,000 is small potatoes here; if that was a significant amount of waste for the bakery they would be losing money. We try not to waste food at home but some weeks we through out nearly half our food because of bad planning or changes to our schedules.

If the scouts wanted to donate those cookies they would have had to buy them from the supplier. It sounds like they work on hunger issues already, but do they have the funds to save these cookies? Would it be cost-effective? What if they could spend the money on less expensive, more nutritional food?

It's a shame ABC Bakery destroyed the cookies. I don't know why they did. They're in it for the money; maybe they also have a philanthropic mission but don't have the budget for cookie dispersal. Maybe they're weird about brand identity or something. Maybe they have rules about distributing food. I don't know. CBS 2 Los Angeles doesn't know either. They didn't manage to talk to the bakery, so they trashed the Girl Scouts instead.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:48 AM on March 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


madajb: I can't take a photo (obviously) but the signs at the tables here are clearly professionally printed, it's the mother that does most of the cajoling while the girls just sit and the whole thing just feels wrong.

The trend I've seen around here this season is the girls making weird robot-like suits out of the empty cardboard cases the individual boxes come in and then dancing around in front of the table. Hilarious and adorable. The first time I saw it I thought it was just some wacky Girl Scout doing it on her own, but I've seen it two or three times since then, at other locations in the area.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:56 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Little kids dancing in cardboard box robot suits could probably sell me anything, let alone yummy cookies.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:05 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sparklemotion: I'm not strongly against it. I just think that if feeding the hungry is going to become a core mission of GSUSA, then they should be feeding them better food.

I don't think feeding the hungry IS a core mission of the GSUSA and no one here is saying it should be but seriously, your comments reek of that old idea that because people are poor and having a hard time feeding themselves, WE should get to dictate what they eat. I mean, they weren't smart enough to figure out how to feed themselves, they're surely not smart enough to figure out what they should be eating, har har har, here I am up here on this high horse.

Look, I work at a food pantry. We have volunteers who frequently shit a brick because we've bought gaylords of cakes from WalMart and are giving them out to families. Sometimes we're lucky to get a ton of soda for $8. We hand that out to. Until you've seen the look of joy on an 80 year old mans face because he's just gotten a jug of soda that he hasn't tasted since 1987, you don't know what simple soda can mean to someone. Until you've seen a single working mother with three children find out she's getting a huge Dora cake and it just so happens to be her toddler's birthday tomorrow and they weren't gonna get a cake because it wasn't in the budget, you don't know what all that junk food means to people. Yeah, it's crap. I know. But to these people, it's not. It's care in a package wrapped in unhealthy icing, but it's care. Someone gives a shit about them when they thought no one did. I know it's just junk food to some. To others, it's much more than that. In this story, it seems all that free care was just thrown in a dumpster. It's a shame.

I don't mean to call you out -- perhaps I'm just reading your comments through my asshole filter because I hear this kind of thing all day and it grates on my nerves. If I'm misreading, I'm truly sorry. You are right, yes, we should absolutely be thinking about how to feed hungry people properly...but in reality, it doesn't happen. I am intimately familiar with the workings of my state's commodities and pantry programs. We're just trying to get people food, ANY FOOD, and bringing the hungry masses fresh salmon and asparagus just isn't an option.

I'm obviously all rage-y these cookies didn't go to a pantry. Perhaps my state's laws are lax but we frequently give away fresh Panera bread, fresh Pizza Hut pizzas, and other things from local restaurants. If ABC or the GSUSA or anyone had called us about some free cookies you bet your ass we've have loaded up 16 vans with those things. And we'd have handed them out, watched smiles form on hungry faces, and not gave a good goddamn that they were junk food.
posted by youandiandaflame at 11:06 AM on March 14, 2013 [22 favorites]


Ah, those Girl Scouts will do anything to earn the new Badge of Shame.
posted by kinetic at 11:16 AM on March 14, 2013


stereotypically "female" activity like "making" cookies

I have no idea what you're talking about, and you're not getting any of my chocolate pizzelle.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:32 AM on March 14, 2013


My husband is in the military, and organizations often like to make themselves feel good by "donating" their leftovers to the base, which the soldiers are then obligated to bring home.

The San Diego council actually has a program called Operation Thin Mint where people can buy cookies for soldiers overseas. So, if you want to help out the scouts but don't want to eat a box of cookies, you can just do that. I don't know, but I would guess, that any leftovers make their way over as well.

I assume the bakers are prevented from selling the same cookies directly to consumers with different names/packaging?

As others have probably noted, LBB is actually owned by Keebler, so you may see Keebler clones of various Girl Scout cookies on your grocer's shelf.

These start with girls as young as Kindergarten. It's no joke. GSUSA takes the cookie business seriously. It's about having fun while learning to come a fiscally responsible little person. It is 100% business sense and 0% homemaker. There is nothing stereotypically female about it. It is awesome and extremely progressive.

My wife is currently writing her dissertation on pretty much this very subject. Although the sales are intended to teach financial responsibility and economics, the very act of trying to sell cookies in the public sphere ends up reinforcing some gender roles that we'd probably rather not have, just because they're girls selling things. In the course of her research, she's worked with a couple troops of older girls who have actually taken some tongue-lashings at their site sales (i.e. when they set up in front of a store) for being too old to sell cookies. Also, the involvement of Daisies (the youngest scout tier) in the cookie sale is pretty recent. I don't disagree with you about the intent, but the way the world is currently subjugates that intent somewhat.
posted by LionIndex at 12:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if you're a kid, knock on my door

The official position is that Kids Can No Longer Do This, as you will steal them into your home and rape them.


I wish the real motivation for this change was the much more important lesson that door to door solicitation of any kind should be anathema in a functioning society, and children should be kept away from the very poisonous notion of it.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


In the course of her research, she's worked with a couple troops of older girls who have actually taken some tongue-lashings at their site sales (i.e. when they set up in front of a store) for being too old to sell cookies.

WTF? It's not soliciting for free Halloween candy, it's a fundraiser for troop activities. I normally ask around to see if any friends or coworkers have Girl Scout daughters that I can support, but next time maybe I'll seek out some Junior/Cadette/Senior troops to offset that ignorance. Damn.
posted by asperity at 12:52 PM on March 14, 2013


In the course of her research, she's worked with a couple troops of older girls who have actually taken some tongue-lashings at their site sales (i.e. when they set up in front of a store) for being too old to sell cookies.

This happened a lot when I was an older girl selling cookies; we usually paired up with a younger troop anyway to help teach them the process and how to do the math, etc., but it was sometimes very awkward as an older scout. I did sell a metric ton at play rehearsals though!
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:58 PM on March 14, 2013


Just to put this in context, Girl Scout cookie sales were estimated at 200 million boxes per year in 2007 (wiki). Higher now, I would guess.

The San Gorgonia Council is one of about 8 GS councils covering the state of California, so a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that their share of the 200 million boxes would be about 5 million.

Only 13,000 wastage out of 5 million boxes sold--most businesses would kill to do so well in predicting demand for their product.

I mean, it would have been nice to donate the extras to somewhere they would do some good, but it is just a completely different scale to imagine they were selling 50K or 100K boxes and wasted 13K, vs the reality is they were selling well into the millions and their wastage is way less than 1%.

What's a wastage rate way less than the average grocery store, I would guess.
posted by flug at 1:13 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a child, my mother insisted that I "clean up my plate" because "there are little kids starving in China!"

I soon learned to reply "Send it to them, then!"

Now that America suddenly [!!] has its own starving kids, my old answer seems to have found another home.
posted by Twang at 3:16 PM on March 14, 2013


Thank you Girl Scouts for your expired cookies!! I was on the receiving end of cases and cases of old cookies in Fallujah...literally bombarded!

Sadly, I'll never eat another Girl Scout cookie again.
posted by vonstadler at 10:28 AM on March 14 [2 favorites +] [!]


I don't understand this comment. Are you joking that GS cookies were used to bomb people in Iraq?
posted by bq at 3:32 PM on March 14, 2013


So I've been thinking about food waste ever since I went to a bunch of all-you-can-eat buffets over the holidays. My parents swear that the big buffet restaurants in Seoul have arrangements with the phys-ed departments of the local 2-year colleges to send over their athletes to hoover up all the leftovers. Food waste is endemic to our WANT ALL THE KINDS OF FOOD ALL THE TIME society.

Girl Scout cookies seem more outrageous because they are beloved and already conveniently packaged. (seriously, I love Trefoils. I think I'm the only one) For all the pushback that sparklemotion is getting on how much effort the bakery or the council should have expended, it is true that we need better overall systems and tools for getting excess food to hungry people. We shouldn't have to rely on individual know-how or effort to make up for industry-wide wastage. There's "crop mobs" and old-school gleaners here in Hawaii, you can send up a bat signal that you have 10,000 lbs of unwanted tomatos in your fields and the local chef community will descend, canning jars in hand. But that only works because pre-existing knowledge and personal connections.

And honestly, the back of my fridge is a travesty. I wish I was both better at eating up all the veggies before they go limp, and I wish Honolulu was one of the municipalities that separated out food waste for composting.
posted by spamandkimchi at 4:24 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If 40% of food is thrown away, does that mean we're paying 40% too much? Someone has to be footing the bill for the waste.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:24 PM on March 14, 2013


But it bears little relation to the completely whitebread suburb I live in.

I have a really hard time with your comments in this thread. GSA is a large national organization that must come up with rules to protect all of its scouts - urban and suburban alike. If they are going to make rules for scouts, they are going to choose the one where everyone is safe, even if you personally are a little sadder or feel its somehow less businesslike of them.

Because you think your "whitebread surburban neighborhood" is safe (even though statistics will bear out that kids get snatched in suburban neighborhoods too) is no reason for actual girls to risk their safety.
posted by corb at 6:41 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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