What happens to thousands of boxes of unsold Girl Scout cookies?

(KTLA) — Since Girl Scout cookies are so popular, you might think they sell out every year. But that’s not the case.

So, what happens to Girl Scout cookies that go unsold? Nexstar’s KTLA wanted to find out.

A quick Google search turns up stories of people throwing out boxes of perfectly good cookies. In 2013, the Girl Scouts came under fire after a video surfaced showing cookies being trashed, with a worker joyfully saying, “Goodbye, Girl Scout cookies.”

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In the decade since, the organization has implemented new systems to ensure that unsold cookies find a home, although specifics can sometimes be hard to come by.

KTLA reached out to some of the biggest Girl Scouts chapters in the nation to find out how many boxes went unsold and what’s being done with them. While many are donated to food pantries, what’s happening to the rest isn’t always clear.

Girl Scout Cookies
Girl Scout Cookies

The national Girl Scouts office said councils are encouraged to donate excess inventory to a charity of their choice with a signed agreement specifically stating that cookies can’t be re-sold.

However, the organization also admits it doesn’t track the number of cookies donated, saying each council has the ability to select a charity or donation center independently.

Take, for instance, the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida (GSSEF). This chapter said they sold 1.4 million boxes of cookies. But despite that, almost 10,000 cases remain unsold in a warehouse.

We’re told supporters of the GSSEF chapter can join their community cookie drive and can now purchase cases of cookies to donate to one of four local organizations: House of Hope, The Lord’s Place, Palm Beach County Food Bank, and Treasure Coast Food Bank.

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As for the boxes that haven’t been sold or given to a local charity, GSSEF said it donates the other extras to the military as part of a program that’s been up and running since 2009.

The Girl Scouts of Central Texas said they donated 74,424 cookie packages to Soldier’s Angels. That figure included what customers paid to donate as well as leftover inventory.

Then, there’s the Girl Scouts of Northern California. In 2024, this chapter’s Care to Share program donated over 170,000 boxes of cookies across a 19-county region to support local military personnel, food banks, and community heroes. This year’s contribution marked a 14% increase in cookie donations compared to the previous year. KTLA asked if the 170,000 boxes included all of the unsold boxes but didn’t get an answer.

What about the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles? They said they donate all unused cookie packages to local non-profits. But when pressed for specific numbers, they said there were no numbers to share.

New York, Chicago, and other regions didn’t answer KTLA’s request for comment.

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