Friday is “National Girl Scout Cookie Day”, a huge media blast to alert the country to the fact that it’s time for the mega fundraising sale. The Scouts are rolling out new apps you can download to your iPhone or Android so you can find the nearest sale. There are videos, a blog, and even a way to track the cookie truck as it delivers its precious cargo in New York City.
And of course in today’s social media-driven world, there’s a one-day Facebook posting contest, and cookie lovers are encouraged to post to Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram with the hashtag of #onemorebox. As in, why you think everyone should buy one more box of Girl Scout Cookies.
I love Girl Scout Cookies as much as the next American, but I won’t buy one more box.
I made the decision last year to never buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies again. I wrote why I believe it’s time for America’s youth organizations to step up as leaders and say “no more” to children and youth selling fat- and sugar-laden foods as a fundraising mechanism in the face of a serious childhood obesity epidemic.
The decision came after years of unease over the practice. I’ve never been a member of Girl Scouts, but I spent 10 years as a Camp Fire Girl, and put in another dozen years or so as a leader, parent, and local board member. I sold (and bought) a lot of candy in my lifetime, and bought a lot of Girl Scout Cookies, wanting to show support for what I know can be a challenging endeavor.
However, when childhood obesity began to get more play in the press about a decade ago, I started to rethink things. As a Camp Fire board member, I suggested we consider switching to a different fundraising model. The idea was flatly rejected. My unease continued to grow over the years, until I finally decided that for me, I was no longer comfortable supporting something that encourages unhealthy eating, and rewards youth for the selling of unhealthy foods.
Please don’t misunderstand, I still support Girl Scouts as a valuable youth organization; when asked to buy cookies (or candy and other snacks from youth) I offer a cash donation instead.
With cookie sales totaling more than $700 million every year for Girl Scouts, I know the organization isn’t stopping the practice anytime soon. However, there is a growing chorus of people criticizing the organization over issues of poor nutrition, the contribution to the obesity epidemic, and the depletion of the rain forest through use of palm oil. There are even Scouts who are opting out of the sales altogether for health reasons.
I hope that Girl Scout leadership will take notice, and eventually put its commitment to children and teens ahead of tradition and dollars. Until then, I’m saying not #onemorebox.
What do you think? Am I making too much of a much beloved tradition? Or should we seriously reconsider the practice of youth sales of unhealthy snack foods?