NEWS

'Share program' addresses Girl Scout cookie surplus

By ARDEN BASTIA
Posted 7/1/21

By ARDEN BASTIA With a nationwide surplus of 15 million boxes, the Girl Scouts organization is looking to unload cookies to hungry customers. The Girl Scouts of Rhode Island has a surplus of 300 cases, roughly 3,600 packages of cookies. "We didn't get

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NEWS

'Share program' addresses Girl Scout cookie surplus

Posted

With a nationwide surplus of 15 million boxes, the Girl Scouts organization is looking to unload cookies to hungry customers.

The Girl Scouts of Rhode Island has a surplus of 300 cases, roughly 3,600 packages of cookies.

“We didn’t get hit as bad as other parts of the country,” said Ginger Lallo, senior director of advancement for Girl Scouts New England. Lallo explained in an interview Friday that she was “cautious” with this year’s ordering, choosing instead to order in smaller batches week by week.

To make a dent in the 300 cases still left at council headquarters, Girl Scouts donated cookies to non-profits, like the Rhode Island Food Bank, and to first responders at Women & Infants Hospital and the Rhode Island National Guard.

Lallo says customer have two options for purchasing cookies. Boxes can be picked up directly at council headquarters at 500 Greenwich Ave. Cookie purchases must be coordinated in advance. To purchase cookies, call (401) 331-4500 or email customercare@gssne.org.

The second option is what Lallo calls the Cookie Share program.

Customers can purchase cookies, not for themselves, but for local organizations and non-profits like food banks and shelters.

If customers choose to just do a donation, the council will still receive proceeds from the sales. Each box of cookies costs $5.

To purchase cookies in the Cookie Share program, visit www.digitalcookie.girlscouts.org/scout/girlscouts2021.

Lallo said COVID restrictions made it difficult for Girl Scouts to do in-person sales, whether that was selling to family and friends, going door to door to collect orders from neighbors, or partnering with local businesses.

Cookie sales are the organization’s largest fundraiser, and the money raised goes towards outreach programs throughout the state, financial help for those scouts who want to go to summer camp, as well as staff pay.

In 2020, Rhode Island Girl Scouts sold 475,000 packages of cookies, estimates Lallo. While still an impressive number, Scouts typically sell an additional 150,000 packages. Overall sales are down $1 million for the region, said Lallo.

According to Lallo, the Girl Scout Cookie Program is the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world, with scouts learning goal-setting and financial skills.

“To be able to learn skills such as that, it’s incredible,” said Lallo.

While the pandemic presented its challenges, Lallo said there were some lessons learned, and cookie selling techniques that will carry over.

One of the different ways the organization accommodated for COVID restrictions was establishing an online ordering system. Customers could place their cookie orders online, and then a scout would coordinate a drop off time.

“This way allowed for the girl to still be actively involved and the customer won’t have to have the cookies shipped,” said Lallo, who called the ordering system “tremendously successful.”

Troops also used touchless payments like card readers, Venmo, and PayPal to keep the sales as safe as possible.

“Drive through cookie booths were really, really well received,” said Lallo, who hopes that this style of selling cookies continues. “We set up a drive through every weekend in our parking lot, and some businesses let us use their lots for sales. It was socially distant, and the girls were really thrilled to be out and active, selling their cookies and interacting with people.”

Among other things that the pandemic impacted were summer camps and regular troop meetings, but Lallo says both of those have returned, making Girl Scouts fun and interactive again.

“Summer camps are pretty full this year, the numbers are very strong, which is exciting” she said. “There was no camp last year, so the girls are eager to get back and be with one another in person.”

Lallo explained that typically, troops don’t meet over the summer, but some are taking advantage of in-person activities, and troops have plans for outdoor activities like hikes and camping.

“Virtual meetings just aren’t the same,” acknowledged Lallo.

Lallo is already preparing and looking forward to next year’s cookie program. She says the organization will be announcing a new cookie flavor in late August. She also has plans to host a special cookie tasting event to launch the grand reopening of the headquarters.

“We want every girl who wants to be a Girl Scout to do so, and cookie sales really allow for that to happen,” said Lallo. “We can give a girl the chance to experience things they might not otherwise be able to.”

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